British wildlife recordings
Uria aalge : Guillemot - Alcidae
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Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire: OS Grid Reference(172500,209500)
Guillemot, Uria aalge
The call of the guillemot, recorded on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire. The guillemot is a gregarious seabird spending the majority of the year at sea, and only coming to land to breed during the summer months. It congregates in large colonies, crowding together on the steepest most inaccessible cliff ledges to breed. The nesting cliffs are noisy places in summer, with the guillemots frequently making their long drawn-out 'aaarr' call. It is a pleasant sounding call, and from a distance may even be described as 'cooing'. As with other members of the auk family, the guillemot stands upright on the cliffs on its large webbed feet or swims like a duck when on the sea. Though it appears black and white, the plumage is in fact a very dark chocolate brown. A small percentage of birds have a slightly different plumage, with a white eye-ring and trailing white stripe behind the eye. The guillemot feeds mainly on fish and as such has suffered from depleted fish stocks caused by overfishing around British shores. In addition, it also becomes entangled in fine fishing nets, and has been affected by oil pollution. Although still one of the most numerous seabirds, with an estimated 700,000 pairs breeding in Britain, it appears recently that fewer young are returning to the same breeding colonies.