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

Share this story

Contact us

Do you have anything to add to this story?

We like to keep everything up-to-date, so if you know more, please help us by getting in touch.


Top stories

Locals aim for global success in Swanage pub takeover A group of Swanage friends who liked their local pub so much that they bought the tenancy are ready to return the Globe to its former glory. 2 weeks ago New funfair ride divides Swanage community 3 weeks ago Swanage fun park ride removed after controversy 2 weeks ago Man in Swanage has jaw broken in violent assault 1 month ago Miracle as school pupil survives 60 foot fall from Old Harry 4 weeks ago

Most recent

Secrets of Purbeck’s smuggling past revealed in new book The story of how one of England’s most notorious 18th century smugglers lived in Worth Matravers in Dorset and hid the contraband in churches across Purbeck, is detailed in a ... 24 hours ago Flying the flag in Swanage for Coastwatch life savers 2 days ago Purbeck bans sale of new build properties as second homes 3 days ago Solar panels to boost Swanage Town Council’s energy 4 days ago More illegal drugs seized by police in Swanage 5 days ago