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180521 Guillemot (10)

What gorgeous birds the Guillemots are! A delicious combination of crisp white and rich chocolate brown, a smile that beams contentment, a look of gentleness despite that fierce-looking beak….

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Guillemots spend most of their lives at sea, only moving on to land to breed, so May was the perfect time to see them on the Farne Islands, where they breed in their thousands each year. The densely packed breeding colonies are called loomeries.

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Reciprocal grooming is part of their bonding process and was delightful to watch.

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Some Guillemots have an additional white marking around their eyes, like the two you can see in this photo. These are officially known as the ‘bridled’ form, though they look like they’re wearing glasses to me. The bridling is, apparently, caused by a genetic mutation, and there seems to be a correlation with temperature – the bridled form is more common in cooler areas.

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I’m not sure what was happening in the top of this photo: bouncing for joy? Jumping off the cliff? Coming in to land?

Sleepy in the sunshine. Just beautiful!