Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Monday, 4 December 2017

Guillemots and Fulmar on the Cliffs at Bempton!

Guillemots visiting the ledges!

I haven't been onto the cliffs for three weeks due to various other commitments so on this fine day of blue sky and sunshine, I decided to see what was about. My last visit in November yielded naked cliffs but today the guttural sounds and sight of thousands of Guillemots on the cliff ledges, in flight and on the sea was a delight to enjoy! However, it is known that Guillemots return to the ledges during the winter months, sometimes for a few hours, a day or several days before heading back out to sea. There are many ideas / speculation as to why this happens highlighting how little is known about the lives of our seabirds. It is known that some start to make short visits to colonies from as early as October at some sites, but they are most abundant in mid-winter. Those that start to visit the cliffs immediately start their part-moult back into their breeding plumage. Studies have shown that the birds returning to the breeding sites are the adult males and females with the younger birds staying out at sea. Mike Harris et al have surmised that competition for high quality nest sites is the most likely reason for winter visits and this can be related to the moult back into summer plumage perhaps for courtship or defence of the nesting site. I'm certain that many other theories exist!

So what else has been seen at Bempton?

Today's Guillemots in varying plumages!

As well as the Guillemots, Fulmars are also on the cliffs, in flight and on the sea. This is one at it's regular nest site.

Remember, though that there are no guarantees in nature - "expect the unexpected"!

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