Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Friday, August 07, 2009

Black Guillemot

These small, compact oceanic birds – a life bird for me – were everywhere along the coast. Coal-black with a pointed dark bill, neatly upturned tail and white oval patches in the wings, they floated in the waves alone or in the company of many others, often close to shore. When one flew low across the water, it looked diminutive and dark, white flashing in the wings. Once in a while we could see their bright red legs and feet.

We first saw them from a rocky shore along the Ocean Path in the park, a place where we walked far out and sat on flat, sun-warmed pink granite rocks, and looked out over the water. Here there were many Black Guillemots bobbing in the waves and sometimes flying, along with a few Common Eider and Double-crested Cormorants, and Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls flying over and perched on the rocks.

Black Guillemots are members of the Alcid family, which also includes murres, auklets and puffins. They live in the cold waters of the Arctic and far northern Atlantic and polar regions, and nest on rocky shores.


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