Friday 12th June comments: The Isle of May seabird breeding season is in full swing (despite the weather) as plenty of seabirds nesting as they are either rasing chicks or incubating eggs. The Guillemots of the cliffs seem well settled and as usual the vast majority are crammed into the tall west cliffs, an ideal place to shelter in these easterlies which are hitting us at the moment (the west cliffs are in the lea of the wind and heavy seas).
Amongst the throng of birds, a small percentage of Guillemots are ‘bridled’; they show a very smart white-eye ring which gives the impression that the bird is wearing a pair of spectacles. Approximately 4% of the islands population of Guillemots has this white-eye ring and are known as bridled Guillemots. These birds are not a separate species and the reasons behind why some birds exhibit such markings is unclear (but looks nice all the same). The Guillemots of the island have been ashore since spring and were presumably on eggs by late April (the first egg laying date the previous season was on 26th April).
On inspection of the cliffs, a small number of young have now hatched (the first chicks hatched on 31st May last year) and over the next few weeks more and more will hatch. It then becomes the responsibility of parents to feed the hungry youngster (they just lay a single egg and incubate on their feet) before the chick matures and is ready to leave. Counts of the islands population are now underway and although always difficult to judge, the population looks like it has increased slightly but the numbers will confirm.