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Black guillemot

Description: Manx name: Caillagh Ghoo

Also known as 'sea pigeon' or 'tystie'

In summer plumage, the black guillemot is an unmistakeable and welcome sight around the Isle of Man. Its jet black colouring contrasts with its red legs and a conspicuous white patch on each wing. When gathering around the coasts to begin breeding, black guillemots call to each other with high pitched whistles, showing the bright red insides of their mouths. Unlike other auk species, they do not breed in large crowded colonies but in smaller, less concentrated aggregations. Nests are mostly hidden under boulders or in rock crevices, but a few pairs have taken to occupying holes in harbour walls in the Isle of Man.

After breeding, the adults moult into their winter plumage, which is quite different from their summer garb as this specimen shows. About 100 - 200 birds have been counted around the Manx coast in winter. They face hardship during stormy weather and may come into bays for shelter, as this one did. Unfortunately, it was too weak to survive by the time it was rescued on Douglas Promenade.

References: Sharpe, C.M. (ed) 2007. Manx Bird Atlas. Liverpool University Press; Cullen, J.P. & Jennings, P.P. 1986 Birds of the Isle of Man. Bridgeen Publications, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Place found: Douglas

Date found: 2006-12-07

Taxonomic name: Cepphus grylle

Collection: Natural History Zoology Collection

ID number: 2008-0154


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