Another auk species this time round, the Guillemot.  And they may look quite like a Razorbill to the beginner but spend a few months on an island full of them and they soon seem like chalk and cheese!  Yes they may both be black and white birds that nest on cliffs and dive for fish but they are very different, honest…  for starters the Guillemot isn’t even really black, more of a chocolatey brown.

The easiest to spot difference is their choice of nest site- Razorbills tend to nest alone or in small groups whereas Guillemot gather in large numbers and don’t mind getting cosy with their neighbours as the shot below shows.

Other differences include their general appearance with the Guillemot having less white on their sides and a finer, plainer bill.  They also having different calls but that one really does take some time to get your ears around- they are both croaky type sounds with the Guillemot being slightly faster and higher pitched than the Razorbill.

Both of these similar auks get a lot of attention out on Skomer, with study plots going for roughly 40 years already and looking at laying dates, productivity and survival rates of these birds.  New work by some of the researchers also includes tagging individuals with GPS locators so we can get a really detailed picture of where these guys feed during the season.  Data loggers are right now recording the activity of a handful of birds, recording how long they fly for, how often and how deep they dive.

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  1. That is a truly amzing gathering there on the rocks.


    Tony Powell

  2. It looks impressive, and is even more so when you can smell and hear them. Seabird colonies are something alright!


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