Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Wild Bird Wednesday 109 - Guillemots

Yet more birds from my trip to the Farne Islands - I did got to other places as well, but this was special.

The Guillemot (or Common Murre in North America) - Uria aalge - is a bird remarkably reminiscent of a penguin. However, they are not really all that closely related with the Guillemots and Penguins being in separate orders.

I assume that the similarity is due to their similar ecology.  Maybe the pale underside acts as camouflage     against the sky when seen from below, and the dark back against the sea when seen from above.

What ever the long evolutionary story that has brought the Guillemot to the Farne Islands it is a wonderful looking birds.

It nest in dense colonies on open cliff face, and it's egg are pointed at one end so that they roll in circles, rather than off the edge of the cliff!

Cliff Edge Gathering
Crop of image above - central bird has a fish, note the chick at top right.
Like most baby birds that chicks of the Guillemot are not as good looking as the adults.


When the birds are in the water they look strangely ungainly, flapping off across the water as they try to start flying.  But even brief glimpses of the bird swimming underwater shows that they can fly in two mediums.

We had a few birds come close to the boat during the tours (yes, I did go twice - I have a tolerant family!), but they were not as cooperative as they may have been.  This is one of the better in the water shots - I like the way you can see the water "beading" off the oily feathers.


Another interesting thing about this bird is that two distinct forms of plumage can bee seen in the birds on the cliffs.  A small number of birds have a white line around the eye, so that when viewed from one side they look like they are wearing a rather dapper monocle!   This is known as the Bridled form of the bird - and this form generally becomes more common in populations of Guillemot as you move north - in the UK this form accounts for between 1 and 5% of the populations.


Well, thats your lot for the Guillemot!

Over to you - click on the link below and off you go.

47 comments:

  1. such neat birds! i really like the spectacled variety! i don't think i've seen those pictured before!

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  2. Great photos in a great place. I'm jealous...

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  3. They really aren't penguins? So beautiful!

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  4. They do look like penguins. It never fails to amaze me how many bird species there are.

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  5. Beautifully illustrated, Stewart, and as usual, very informative. That "monocle" is interesting-- it must somehow promote survival of the responsible genes-- I wonder if the northern population was established earlier and the gene flourished, or was it first expressed in a southern population and was diluted away because it served no evolutionary purpose. Why speculate? The pointed eggs clearly make sense!

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  6. ...that last image...superior!!
    Love the 'eye make-up'

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  7. Really amazing photos and so gorgeous creatures :)))

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  8. Steward wat is dit mooi, het is dringen om een plekje en wat een beauty,s

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  9. That was a lovley one , with perfect lines a look as Greta Garbo in profile ,Nette

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  10. Always love your birds and this one I've never seen before!! Thanks for sharing, they're beautiful winged-critters!!

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  11. A gorgeous bird. I truly have enjoyed observing these birds out in the wild. You have a lot of excellent shots....and I would have taken a couple trips myself:)

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  12. Cool birds, never seen them before, great shots.

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  13. HI MAnagged to get on tonight and got linked in. I am very limited for interent access. great post of yuor with excellent shots.

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  14. I just attached link to my bird-panter-blog :) I did everything OK, I hope.

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  15. They do look quite a bit like penguins in their tuxedo-like attire.

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  16. Very neat birds..I love the monocle around the eye- that is cool. When I first opened your page I thought these were penguins.

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  17. Handsome fellows in their formal attire. And a lot of them. Neat experience.

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  18. Superb images. How neat to see a whole colony up close.

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  19. Really wunderful birds and great photos.

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  20. They are cool birds, Stewart! I like the one wearing the eyeliner..Your photos are awesome..Thanks for hosting, have a great week!

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  21. How handsome! Very good looking birds. I really like the all black head/neck and the transition to the white. Nice shots!

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  22. they remind me somewhat of a penguin. great images

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  23. Very interesting birds! I've never seen them before. They have wonderful eye makeup! :-) Great photos, Stewart!

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  24. Good post and of course great shots.

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  25. Wonderfully interesting, Stewart! I'm a big penguin fan, so it was fun to learn about the Guillemots. Thanks for sharing so much information about them!

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  26. Quite unusual-looking bird. I like the monocle.

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  27. such a wonderful location for these beautiful birds Stewart and beautifully sharp photos too; well done

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  28. They are so darn adorable all gathered together...striking birds!...:)JP

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  29. These are new to me. They are pinguinlike. Nice series of shots!

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  30. Hello Stewart!:) All your Guillemot captures are fantastic. I also like the one in the water.
    Have never seen the monocle before, love the last shot!:)

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  31. Hi Stewart,
    Great photos of the Guillemot.
    The last picture is my favorite, without the other photos too short to do.
    Very well photographed.
    Best regards, Irma

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  32. I say there, old chap ... I think I much prefer the bridled form of this lovely bird. You come up with the most interesting posts ever ... I love these Guillemots. I think all of the diving birds have that awkward look out of water ... the Loons and the Cormorants are the same way, but they don't have the lovely white chest or monocle so they arn't quite as cute. Love this ... I really must go to this island some day.

    Andrea @ From The Sol

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  33. Oh, I thought they are penguins when I opened your site p;) Guillemots sure is unique bird and white line around the eye amazed me.

    Sending Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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  34. I thought for sure these were penguins. They're beautiful...thanks for sharing!

    Dawn
    @ A Place for Pictures and Memories

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  35. Pretty interesting information regarding the eggs. The 'monocle' is fantastic, brilliant contrast!!

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  36. I always love your birds! Thanks for the really awesome info about them, too.

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  37. Sorry for my tardiness, it is becoming a thing I must take on as best as I can. The images are all absolutely splendid~

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  38. Really cool birds! That last shot is really pretty.

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  39. They do look a bit like penguins ..

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  40. Lovely birds! Prettier than penguins, I think.

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  41. What fabulous shots. They really do look a lot like penguins.

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  42. Interesting birds, as well as attractive. It amazes me how nature adapts to its surroundings...eggs pointed at one side so they roll in a circle. Great shots of the Guillemots, Stewart. Have a great weekend!

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  43. I finally caught up with you Stewart and sorry I'm late.The Farnes must be one of the best places in the world to photograph sea birds. You made some great images.

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  44. They look very much at peace with the world.

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  45. Fantastic photos Stewart! Another striking bird.

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