Saturday, 15 August 2009

Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

OTHER NAMES: Kittiwake, Kittie
Latin Etymology: Rissa (Icelandic name for species) tridactyla ("three toed")
One adult and three juvenile Black-legged Kittiwakes (subspecies R. t. tridactyla) at Farne Islands, Northumbria - July 2009

Featured Subspecies: Rissa tridactyla tridactyla
Weight: 300-500g
Length: 40cm
Wingspan: 90-100cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The name Kittiwake is onomatopoeic based on their calls, and the species is Britain's most exclusively coastal gull - unlike other species it is very rarely found inland, and most of the time it is best seen on it's cliff nesting sites. This unfortunately means that in normal circumstances it is one of the trickier gulls to photograph, however again the Farne Islands come to the rescue and they permit great views of these birds closeup on their nests from the path.  Ordinarily however, you would need to just look around coastal cliffs for suitable habitat, and generally they would begin to see them assuming they are present.  It's also worth noting that more recently they have begun to colonise certain man-made structures such as high bridges and abandoned sea-installations.

Related Species:
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Rissa
Subspecies: R. t. tridactyla, R. t. pollicaris 

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Locally common breeding species (380,000 pairs)
 - An exclusively coastal bird seen at  Trevose Head and the Farne Islands

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