Guillemot problems

Cullen has become one of our favourite places to visit whilst in Scotland. Today’s walk there was excellent, but sadly we were vividly reminded of the ongoing avian flu epidemic: There were at least half a dozen dead guillemots washed up on the beach, and then we saw one very close in to the shore and obviously without the strength to fly or to get back out to sea.

A guillemot with avian flu

A little further on I then almost stood on a guillemot sitting in a rocky area, again unable to fly or move.

This guillemot was so ill it couldn’t move when I walked past – so close that this photo was taken with my iPhone

Looking at the numerous auks, both guillemots and razorbills, out to sea, it was clear that many of the guillemots were affected as their stance in the water was low, with heads and necks almost touching the waves. I suspect that the neck muscles just didn’t have enough strength left to hold the head up. It will be good when this ongoing epidemic eases off – but who knows when that will be.

On the top of the headland, by Bow Fiddle Rock, I was able to get some photos of a fulmar in flight: Difficult to catch, but some were not too bad!

A fulmar – they glide on stiff wings and have tubed nostrils!

I also saw various of our commoner gull species, including lesser and greater black-backed, a few eider ducks, and a good number of sandwich terns.

herring gull

Brenda writes: “The gorgeous sunny day meant that the light was beautiful at Cullen. It was high tide as we set off along the beach and it was nice to see clumps of sea rocket and frosted orache.

sea rocket
frosted orache

At the far end it becomes rocky and there was sea plantain growing in the cracks.

sea plantain

The path then climbs up to the headland where goldenrod was flourishing. It’s a plant I don’t see that often, although Canadian goldenrod is a common garden escape. So the specific seaside habitat provided me with three new species today plus a fourth that’s quite choosy about where it grows.”


New species for August 31st:
Flowers: sea rocket, frosted orache, goldenrod, sea plantain

Birds = 215
Moths = 219
Wildflowers = 275