Black Guillemots are the connoisseur’s auk. If you find Puffins too gaudy, or Guillemots too dowdy, then Black Guillemots are for you. On Papa Westray they pepper the coast. Or should that be salt and pepper the coast.
I love their curious ways.
They are terribly smart, with their white wing flash and scarlet legs. We see a group at the start of our walk around Papay.
Do you like their dancing?
Later on in the day, we see Black Guillemots again, this time against the pincushions of Thrift. They have pure white underwings too.
Then we hear them call. It’s a strange high-pitched mewing unlike anything else. I’m not sure whether it sounds sweet or sad. It has a beautiful elegiac tone, so I suppose their plaintive call must be sad..
Black Guillemots love to accessorise in style and have a gape which matches their scarlet legs. It’s extraordinary. I want them to go fishing and bring back a Butterfish for us to see, but I can’t complain. Their otherworldly music is gift enough.
I want to thank them for their sad, sweet song.