Monday, 4 February 2008

Guillibills and Razormots

A feature of the last few windy days has been the large number of auks flying south into the wind (or in the case of one pair today, flying north just to be contrary). Plenty have also been seen on the sea, fishing, loafing, and occasionally being attacked by Herring Gulls.
The vast majority are unidentifable at a distance, and almost all that are nearer are Guillemots like the ones above.

I was pleased to have a relatively close view of a Razorbill, spending more time under water than on it.
Its puffin-like bill was easy to see.
On an associated matter, are the words bill and beak synonymous? Apparently not quite: the word bill is derived from the Old English bile meaning flat sword, and therefore is more relevant to Razorbills and Puffins (and ducks if turned sideways) than the pointy ones of, say, robins, oystercatchers and guillemots.

Presumably the different beaks are adapted to different methods of catching fish - if I come back as an auk (could be worse) I'd prefer to be a guillemot, as I'm not sure I could cope with a bill like that.

No comments: