Winter Residence

Guillemot 1

Winter plumage Guillemots on the cliff ledges

Guillemot 2

An interesting time of year to view them

Tuesday 28th November comments: As we’ll all know, the Isle of May NNR is one of the most important seabird reserves in the country but at this time of year, very few seabirds are evident. Or are they?

As first glance, the cliffs are empty, the Puffins are in the Atlantic and the Terns are in the southern hemisphere so what should we look out for at this time of year? The only seabird to truly winter on the island is the Shags, with good numbers roosting on the island which feed nearby during the short winter daylight hours.

However a fairly recent phenomenon has seen the return of the Guillemots to the cliff ledges during mid-winter. These birds, the majority in winter plumage, return early morning for an hour or so to cement their claim on important breeding ledges before heading back out to the open sea to feed and rest. It’s an interesting winter strategy and it just shows you the importance of the places like the Isle of May even in mid-winter when you think very little is going on…

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