It must be very frustrating to be a bird with an itch. Despite having extremely flexible necks and long-jointed feet and legs there are parts you just can’t scratch. Having fleas and lice sucking your blood doesn’t help, either.
How nice then to have a partner who will preen your neck for you.
The Puffin Whisperer and I are on a brief trip to Bempton Cliffs in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It’s an incredible seabird city. Just look at these regularly-spaced Gannets. They’re a tiny fraction of the 500,000 seabirds here.
A couple of Gannets, Morus bassanus, are busy head-shaking:
Then they get busy with preening the backs of one another’s heads. That’s good. Just where they can’t reach themselves.
Another pair are at it on the cliffs
A returning Kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla, calls and rubs the back of the neck of its partner:
There’s a couple of Guillemots, Uria aalge, with beautiful turquoise sea behind them:
They spend their lives at sea and only come to land to breed. Their courtship and pair bonding is great to see.
Given how alien to us these winged dinosaurs are, they are very tender to one another, aren’t they?