It was a bright, warm and sunny morning that greeted Colin, Derek and I when we met at 07:00 in the car park at Ness Point, Lowestoft - Britain's most easterly point - before walking round to the SLP Engineering facility at Hamilton Dock. We were suited (overalls), and booted (steels), and equipped with our hard hats and safety glasses in order to comply with the strict health and safety regulations that SLP implement, and for good reason as the facility is an industrial site with many potential hazards.
We were escorted through the facility to the artificial Kittiwake nesting wall that SLP constructed on the outer harbour by Charlie from SLP who stayed to lower chicks down from the ledges upon which the nests are built. Given that SLP could only spare Charlie until 10:00 we had to work quickly in order to get all the chicks ringed and colour ringed. Despite this from 72 visible nests 87 chicks were ringed out of 99 chicks present, the remainder being too small to ring or inaccessible. Unfortunately a few of the nests are harbour facing and on a lower shelf that is inaccessible so these are left unringed.
In fact the team were operating so efficiently that Derek had an opportunity to have a go at catching a few adults using the pole mounted noose and successfully captured six new adults as well as a re-trap that was ringed at the SLP colony as a chick in 2007.
Nesting Kittiwakes on the SLP wall
In the evening the same team plus Mike Swindells met at Claremont Pier in Lowestoft to ring all the chicks that were too small to ring on the first visit a week ago. Having been a hot and sunny day the beach was still busy and having already attracted attention of some local bathers it was decided to leave catching any adults until later. In the end a further 22 chicks were ringed and colour ringed and 3 adults caught by Derek; all of which had been previously caught as adults at the colony.
Kittiwakes with chicks on Claremont Pier