Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Day 155 - Gorgeous Guillemots

Hi all today's Day 155 and as you'll probably know I have been at Bempton Cliffs recently. I saw quite a lot of birds there including the Puffin, the Razorbill and the Gannet. I also saw some other birds some of which I hadn't seen before. One of these was the Guillemot. There must have been about 3 colonies that I saw each consisting of 100 odd birds. They looked almost exactly the same as another bird that I have covered called the Razorbill so I sometimes got them mixed up.
Guillemots (Uria aalge)

Not having seen one before I did a bit of research and here are some facts:

  • They come to most areas of the UK to nest, the main exception is the South East of England. Apart from that they spend all of their time at sea.
  • Even though there are 950,000 breeding pairs they are an Amber Status bird. This is because they are a localised breeding population.
  • They have two main local names. 'Loom' and 'Willock'. I have no idea what either of these mean but hopefully someone can shed some light on it. All I could find is that Loom is connected to diving
  • I also found that they have or had many other local names including frowl, kiddaw or skiddaw, langy, lavy, marrock, murre, scout, scuttock, strany, tinker and tinkershire! Wow.
    Lovely eyes
  • They live in large colonies called Loomeries. Each pair in a Loomery will lay 1 egg per year which is specially adapted not to roll out off the cliff. This is important as they don't build a nest they, just lay their egg onto the bare rock!
  • They have a very small nesting territory too extending only a beak length around them (about 5cm!)
  • Parents take turns to incubate the single egg by placing it on their feet and covering it with their belly feathers.
  • After hatching the young perch on the cliffs for about four weeks with the parents flying in and out almost continuously feeding them.
  • A Guillemot diet is mostly fish which they can dive quite deep for - up to 60m!
    How do they cling on?
  • The chicks fledge before they can fly! When they are about a third of their adult weight they jump from the cliffs at night (to avoid predators) and plummet into the sea (hopefully) whirring their underdeveloped wings. When they land they call to their parents who guide them further out to sea where they continue to be fed for a few more weeks until they can fly and fend for themselves.
  • On the subject of size, they are 40cm in length and have a 67cm wingspan. They weigh 690g.
  • Their Latin name (Uria aalge) means Waterbird Auk (Auk is their family name). Ouriaa = waterbird (latin) and aalge = Auk (Danish). 
  • They have an absolutely huge typical lifespan of 23 years! The oldest Guillemot was an equally impressive 32 years 2 months 26 days old!
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. I love Guillemots, I really need to get back down to the coast and do some birdwatching there! Another great post. - Tasha