Guillemots in
Cornwall

These little birds are a regular sight for us in the spring and summer. We see them most often at Gull Rock.

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Guillemots in Cornwall

We are lucky to have a rich variety of habitats on our doorstop, attracting many different species of birds, both as residents and migrants passing through.


Rugged cliffs, muddy creeks, salt-marsh, sandy and rocky shores, sheltered coves and freshwater means a wide range of species can be seen on our trips:


  • Gannet
  • Fulmar
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Guillemot
  • Cormorants and Shags


Bring your binoculars and see how many species you can spot!

  • Guillemot (Uria aalge)

These little birds are a regular sight for us in the spring and summer. We see them most often at Gull Rock, which is the largest sea bird breeding colony on the south coast of Cornwall, along with razorbills and shags. Guillemots are flightless for 7 weeks of the year in July and August when they moult all their flight feathers in one go and have to wait for them to re-grow!

Identification:

  • Black/ very dark brown over the back of the body and white underneath in summer. The face up to the neck becomes white in winter.
  • Wingspan of 38- 41cm.
  • Very slim, pointed bill.

Distribution and breeding:
The guillemot breeds around the British coast so can be seen throughout the spring and summer. They spend the whole winter at sea in the north Atlantic. The breeding colonies are normally on narrow cliff ledges. Once the chick has hatched, it will leave its cliff-top perch when it's 3 weeks old. It is unable to fly properly and not fully grown at this stage, so the male will lead it out to sea and continue to feed it for around 10 weeks.

Conservation:
Guillemots are threatened by oil spills and fine fishing nets which can drown them if they get ensnared. Like a lot of sea birds their future depends on sustainable fish stocks in their main breeding grounds.