New guillemot chicks at Durlston but other birds in decline

The well established colony of guillemots at Durlston Country Park in Swanage is having another successful breeding season but rangers have noticed declining numbers of cormorants and kittiwakes.

The guillemot colony at Durlston is the second largest on the South Coast with around 400 birds, of which about 200 are visible via Durlston’s cliff camera.


They started arriving in March to breed and some are still incubating an egg, many of which are bright blue.

Don Williams
Don Williams
Guillemots at Durlston with an egg
Durlston Country Park

The guillemots and chicks on the ledges. A few of the eggs have yet to hatch

It’s not the same for cormorants and kittiwakes

Senior ranger at Durlston Country Park, Katie Black said:

“There are still some eggs waiting to hatch but it’s getting late for them now, so hopefully we’ll see the chicks emerge over the next few days. We have a healthy colony of guillemots on the ledges at Durlston again this year and seen about the same number of chicks hatch, which is positive.

“Unfortunately it’s not the same for cormorants and kittiwakes whose numbers are declining this year – it could be lack of food or disease – we just don’t know yet but certainly the number of those nesting in the area, especially over at the Old Harry Rocks has declined.

“We’re working with the National Trust to collect seabird data in and this will give us an idea of the trends in Purbeck.

“Anyone who wants to see the guillemots can watch them on the live video feed that we have at Durlston Castle and if you ask at the desk, we can zoom in and look in more detail.

“For those who’d like to see them in person, there’s always a few of our rangers on the Friday night bird watching boat trip, who will be able to point things out and chat about the seabirds.”

Don Williams

A puffin at Dancing Ledge – one of a small colony

Don Williams

A gannet in full flight

Don Williams

Three shags

Sail round the coast to Dancing Ledge and back

The Friday night bird watching boat trip departs every Friday at 6 pm from Poole Quay and picks up more passengers at 7 pm from Swanage Pier.

The trip takes place through the main bird nesting season until Friday 2nd July 2021 and sails round the coast to Dancing Ledge and back, often skippered by Don Williams who is also a wildlife photographer.

While passengers will be able to see the guillemot colony, they should also be able to spot puffins, razorbills, shags and gannets.

Don Williams

Further information

  • A daily diary of what you can spot at Durlston Country Park is available to read on its website
  • Tickets for the bird watching trips can be booked on the City Cruises website

Watch the Durlston Country Park camera

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