Freak weather takes toll on birds

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The Independent Online
More than 100,000 baby birds have been killed because of freak weather conditions at an internationally important breeding site, the RSPB said yesterday. The chicks - mainly kittiwakes and some guillemots - have been washed out of their nests in cliffs at Bempton, near Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire, by gales and driving rain.

The RSPB estimates that more than 100,000 kittiwakes out of about 130,000 that have been born this year have perished. At least 90 per cent of about 8,000 guillemots bred in the colony are also thought to have died.

RSPB spokesman Chris Harbard described the loss as a "huge tragedy" for Bempton, which has been a successful seabird breeding colony for hundreds of years.

If the storms had struck just a few weeks later it is likely the birds, which were up to three weeks old, would have survived because many would have been able to fly.