The Guillemot (or Common Murre in North America) - Uria aalge - is a bird remarkably reminiscent of a penguin. However, they are not really all that closely related with the Guillemots and Penguins being in separate orders.
I assume that the similarity is due to their similar ecology. Maybe the pale underside acts as camouflage against the sky when seen from below, and the dark back against the sea when seen from above.
What ever the long evolutionary story that has brought the Guillemot to the Farne Islands it is a wonderful looking birds.
It nest in dense colonies on open cliff face, and it's egg are pointed at one end so that they roll in circles, rather than off the edge of the cliff!
|Cliff Edge Gathering|
|Crop of image above - central bird has a fish, note the chick at top right.|
When the birds are in the water they look strangely ungainly, flapping off across the water as they try to start flying. But even brief glimpses of the bird swimming underwater shows that they can fly in two mediums.
We had a few birds come close to the boat during the tours (yes, I did go twice - I have a tolerant family!), but they were not as cooperative as they may have been. This is one of the better in the water shots - I like the way you can see the water "beading" off the oily feathers.
Another interesting thing about this bird is that two distinct forms of plumage can bee seen in the birds on the cliffs. A small number of birds have a white line around the eye, so that when viewed from one side they look like they are wearing a rather dapper monocle! This is known as the Bridled form of the bird - and this form generally becomes more common in populations of Guillemot as you move north - in the UK this form accounts for between 1 and 5% of the populations.
Well, thats your lot for the Guillemot!
Over to you - click on the link below and off you go.