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I have been visiting the Kittiwakes at Mumbles Pier quite a lot. I am trying to get a complete record of the development of the young. There are plans to redevelop the pier, so I am not too sure how many more times the Kittiwakes will be able to nest on it in the future.

The birds are very tolerant, probably due to the presence of so many fishermen and women. The gulls occasionally chase the bait that the fishermen are using to try and catch fish. Unfortunately at my last visit on Monday one of the fishermen managed to hook an adult bird through the leg. I haven’t seen so many grown men poncing about before, they all seemed to be afraid of the bird which was getting quite distressed. Luckily with the help of one of the more calm fishermen I managed to get hold of the gull while he removed to hook from the leg.? Amazingly the bird did not seem to show any pain as the hook was removed, and once released it flew back to one of the roosting sites on the pier. There was a nasty wound still on its leg, so I hope it survives, but it seemed quite okay as I watched it for a while afterwards.

Apart from the straight photographic record shots, the challenge has been to try and find different viewpoints and get a bit more “art” into the images. This is proving to be quite challenging and results are still varied at the moment.? As there are only a few places to stand to see the Kittiwakes from so repetition is a problem. Using different light has helped, but overall there tends to be a “sameness” to some of the images. What has been working well is the combination of teleconverters, extension tubes and my longest lens combined to allow extreme close up portraits of the adult birds without having to get too close. Even with this set up giving a focal length of roughly 1680mm it is still quite surprising how close you need to be, not withstanding the focus, depth of field and sharpness issues. I’m still trying to get an image of a wide open mouth of one of the adult birds to show the magnificent red and yellow colouration present.

This extra reach has also helped me get more intimate images of the chicks as they develop. Most chicks seem to be surviving and developing well and are now being left alone by some parents so I can get clearer views of them.

There are still some days to go before they fledge, so I will get in a few more visits before then and see what turns up. A male grey seal was swimming around at my last visit totally oblivious to the fishermen and kayaks around it.

Nick

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