Living on the ledge

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The last week or so has seen the guillemots settling down to laying their eggs. The last few days we have seen them having to put up with rain and hot sun and the incubating bird (it can be either the male or the female) has to just stay put and take what the weather gives them.

P1110089 P1110092Preening between partners but also their neighbours is very important. If you live so very close to your neighbours it is important that you get on with them so a bit of preening improves relations with next door and reduces damaging fights. In fact researchers have shown that more preening of next door neighbours improves breeding success.

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IMG_9976It seems to humans such a precarious existence to be laying your precious egg on such small and sometimes not even horizontal ledges.  But for guillemots it makes sense as because they are not such good fliers, a ledge on a cliff means easy take off and landing. But how do they find their own ledge? Well guillemots have fantastic spacial awareness so they can recognise  their own ledge is relations to a whole cliff face of ledges in a way that humans could never manage. This spacial awareness also helps them on a much large scale find the island home in a wide open sea, even in thick fog.  They often return to breed on a ledge close to the one they were hatched on.

These Isle of May birds will have to incubate their eggs for about 30 days before it hatches. And then the feeding work starts.

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