Posts Tagged ‘Black Guillemot



On Saturday I held a ‘cetacean workshop’ in the reserve centre at Cley NWT. It was a good interactive group of interesting people. The morning was classroom based and after lunch we went down to the ‘beach hotel’ to look for a few porpoise out at sea. We unfortunately didn’t see any and guests gradually bid their farewell, but there were a few birds passing to keep interest high. As the light was failing the Black Guillemot that had been moving up and down the coast for the past week or so sailed-by. All the remaining guests managed to get onto it and have a good look through the scope. Some compensation at least for the absence of porpoise.

I took a few record shots as the bird bobbed and dived in the swell. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular given the distance and the failing light. I put the camera away and took the opportunity to look at the bird through the scope myself. It was then I saw it tilt its head sideways and look up. I’ve seen many birds do this over the years and it’s always indicative of them seeing a raptor above. However, I’ve never seen any species of auk do it previously … and I’ve seen a lot of auks.

Following the guillemots line of sight I looked up myself and very high above us was a Short eared Owl coming in off the sea. Seeing an owl come in-off is always good; a treat in itself. The owl spilled air from it’s wings and steeply dropped down onto the marsh behind us.

I pondered on the fact that the two species, Black Guillemot and Short eared Owl, would rarely be in the same environment and have a chance to interact. So how did the auk know the Short eared Owl was a threat? I guess it is just hard-wired into most birds that birds of prey, whatever the species, are just not good news.


A Cley Visitor

I’m used to seeing Black Guillemot in full breeding dress during our visit to Mull each year. They tend to stay north and west; rarely visiting the South East coasts. Not so this little chap. He spent a week or more just further out than the surf at Cley-next-the-sea in August and was sporting his casual dress.

It was quite amusing to see a whole bank of photographers overlooking the swimsuited masses on the warm bank holiday.



Arguably the most endearing bird in the UK. Black Guillemot as seen on our trip to Mull in May this year. Not only do they look quite striking but they sound cute too as they whistle to one another.


Jockeying for position!

This Male Black Guillemot was trying his best to mount a proposed mate last week. She was having nothing of it! Every time he raised a leg in anticipation of getting on board she changed position … in the end they decided to just sit together and look out to sea. Lovely birds these, so uncommon here in Norfolk but up on Mull and the west coast of Scotland last week we saw plenty.

Black Guillemot_Z5A9114


Black Guillies!

When we were travelling up to Mull we stopped to photograph several Black Guillemots. Not common further south they are a refreshing change from our other Auks. Smart dapper little birds with their pied plumage and red legs; cheerful little characters.

Black Guillemot

Black Guillemot 1


Worth the wait

Sometimes you look for years for an opportunity and one day it just comes along almost as though it never really mattered.
Andrew (thank you buddy) had told me about a small colony of Black Guillemot he had seen nesting in a busy costal town on the west coast of Scotland a few years ago and I was keen to see if they were still there.
They were … in small numbers. Previously I had encountered Black Guillemot distantly from boats or sat on the sea offshore. These beautiful birds with their contrasting plumage were now within feet of me. Such a treat to be able to see and photograph them so close.
Several were courting … chasing and whistling at one another; completely oblivious to me. In the bright sunshine set against a seabed lit with so many colours they looked enchanting.

Black Guillemot

Black Guillemot 2

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Jun 2023


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