June 25th   Leave a comment

I was sea watching at Fife Ness first thing this morning in the vague hope of an early Mediterranean gull. There was constant auk passage – hundreds of puffins, guillemots and razorbills passing every few minutes as the three species work as hard as they can to feed the peak demand of their rapidly growing chicks on the May Island. Now is the time to learn the three species as they pass one after the other. They are easy on close view – you can see that guillemots are milk chocolate and razorbills dark; that puffins have white faces. But as they get further out it becomes trickier. I gave some thought to what I use to split them at a distance. It’s all shape, and tilt, and relative proportions of the front and back. Hard to describe except visually (see below). I haven’t quite got it right but it’s a reasonable guide to splitting distant auks. Puffins are always easy – wobbling, oval rugby balls. Guillemots usually look bigger at the back and unevenly balanced. Razorbills look even and flat.

My guide to identifying auks in flight at a distance: guillemot (top), razorbill (middle) and, of course, puffin (bottom)

Posted June 25, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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