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K is for Kittiwakes

Some of the annual visitors to Lowestoft are breeding pairs of Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) that arrive in the town every March/April to form large colonies on many buildings.

They first began to appear in 1946 and by the 1960s almost forty pairs were nesting regularly on the ledges of the now demolished South Pier Pavilion. From 1970 the colonies began to spread each year to nearby buildings and by 1988 it was calculated a total of 107 pairs had raised 153 young.  After the pier pavilion was demolished in 1989 Associated British Ports built a special “nesting wall” on the north pier to provide a new nesting site for the returning birds.

Since then however more and breeding pairs return each Spring and occupy ledges and window sills on various buildings in the town including the defunct ice factory on Whapload Road, the Telephone Exchange on Clapham Road and, what appears to be a favourite with them, the tower of “Our Lady Star of the Sea” church on Gordon Road.

After their eggs (usually two per nest) have hatched and the young can fly, the birds will leave the colony and, being nomadic, they will spend most of the following months at sea before returning the following Spring.