Guillemot (Common Guillemot)
Distribution Britain 212 (-5.8%) Ireland 59 (-20.3%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 1,050,000 Ireland 153,000 adults
European status: 2,000,000 (30% in Britain and Ireland =2)
British population trend: continued increase unabated?
How likely are you to record it? 3 squares (0.1%) Ranked 171= [101=]
These birds, our largest auk, have suffered from sport shooting and egg collecting, from oil pollution and from being caught in fishing nets and yet they are doing very well indeed. The appalling exploitation of the seas resulting in over-fishing have probably increased the biomass of small fish available for the birds by reducing the populations of larger, predatory fish. Victorian sport shooting at the colonies, cliff falls and later oil pollution extinguished the eastern colonies along the Channel coast by 85 years ago. There have been recent reductions in the number of colonies in south-west Britain and, probably, south-west Ireland but the number of breeding birds is increasing. In many areas these increases are very fast Rathlin Island in the North of Ireland may have 80,000 now where there were only 21,575 in 1969. The main colonies are in Scotland and many of them have also been increasing rapidly by 10% per annum or more and the same goes for the colonies in North-east England. Here the estimate was 15,528 in 1969-70 and 59,244 in 1985-87! The last major sport shooting abroad (at sea) was much reduced 30 years ago; birds are still caught in fishing nets but the toll of oil pollution, which was appalling during the period 1940 to 1970, is not now nearly so important. Even the Erika incident, with possibly 50,000 Guillemots dead off North-west France, may only have a long-term effect on 'local' colonies. Excellent prospects for the future.
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead