A "CONCERNING" report has revealed that potentially thousands of gull chicks have died during the 2018 summer at one of the areas most treasured landscapes.

A report on the herring gull and lesser black-backed gull colony at South Walney Nature Reserve in 2018 has revealed that not a single gull chick survived the summer.

The gull colony at South Walney recorded 3,465 apparently occupied nests (AON) in 2018 (1,484 Herring Gull and 1,981 Lesser Black-backed Gulls).

This is a decline from 2017's number of 4,487 and the lowest number recorded since 1950. More alarming is the fact that the study showed a "complete breeding failure, with all chicks dying before fledging."

Sarah Dalrymple, warden at South Walney Nature Reserve, described how awful it was to see all the dead chicks.

“It was really horrible to see. The season started off well but in the space of one and a half weeks all the chicks had died - it was a carpet of dead chicks.

"It was an unusually hot and dry summer which may have resulted in such a loss.

"As well as the weather it is possible that overfishing has resulted in less food for the gulls. The loss during 2017 was attributed to food shortage when only 150 chicks fledged.

"It is also possible that the way we manage our waste has had an impact. Tips are much better managed these days and so less gulls will be able to feed in such areas so it is possible that the amount of gulls is returning to its natural state but it is still deeply concerning considering the amount that was lost.

"If there were around 3,500 nests with each one expected to have two to three chicks this could potentially mean over 7,000 chicks were lost in one summer."

Within the study it states how a number of bodies were examined but the cause of death was unclear 'due to the rapid decay of the bodies' in the hot weather.

The 2018 summer was the joint hottest on record and the study claims 'it is highly likely that the unusually hot, dry summer was a contributing factor in this mass mortality' and how a decline in the numbers of nesting gulls is 'a real cause for concern.'