Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)
Black Guillemot, Westray, Orkney, Scotland, May 2003 - click for larger image Orkney, Scotland
May 2003

The Black Guillemot is distributed in northern Europe and around the fringes of the Arctic Ocean in North America and Siberia. In winter it can remain in the high Arctic as long as there is unfrozen water available.

Black Guillemot, Westray, Orkney, Scotland, May 2003 - click for larger image It is mainly a bottom-feeder which is why it is normally found close to shore and frequently around harbours in the Northern Isles. It feeds on fish and shellfish.

It does not breed in large colonies like other auks such as Guillemot and Puffin but is found in small, loose groups of a dozen or so birds.

Black Guillemot, Westray, Orkney, Scotland, May 2003 - click for larger image The Black Guillemot is smaller than the Guillemot and slightly larger than the Puffin. In summer it is unmistakable being all browny-black with two large white ovals on the wing coverts. Its feet are bright red.

The 3rd photo shows a mating ritual with both birds standing tall on their extended legs with bills pointing up and down while making a series of pipit-like sounds.

Black Guillemot, Orkney, Scotland, May 2003 - click for larger image In winter it looks very different with white below and white barring above. The fifth photo shows a Black Guillemot moulting into its winter plumage.
Black Guillemot, Western Isles, Scotland, August 2003 - click for larger image
Black Guillemot, Kinlochbervie, Scotland, May 2005 - click for larger image
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