RAF blamed for kittiwake chicks’ deaths

The RAF has been accused of causing the deaths of kittiwake chicks when jets flew low over their island nesting sites and scared tens of thousands of birds.

Youngsters were knocked into the sea and drowned in the mass panic which followed the training exercise over the Farne Islands off the Northumberland Coast on Tuesday.

Locals said they believed a no-fly zone over the wildlife haven was breached, and the National Trust, which manages the islands, will make an official complaint.

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Andrew Douglas, who operates two visitor boats from Seahouses, was out at sea with a visitor group when the jets flew over.

He said: “The RAF went right over the top of the islands. You should have seen all the people’s faces on the boat and seen all the birds go flying into the sky.

“We have 80,000 pairs of birds here. The jets scared them and they knocked the chicks into the sea as they took off.”

An RAF spokeswoman said: “Any complaints will be investigated thoroughly and should it be deemed that the rules have been broken, appropriate action will be taken.”