Black Guillemots and Butterfish

Butterfish are the Black Guillemot’s most common catch. Here’s a Butterfish which is deep red and still wriggling.

Black Guillemot - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Black Guillemots usually grip Butterfish behind the head but this one dropped its catch as the fish wriggled and had to grab it again by the middle.

I’ve spent a few days alternately prowling and staking-out the rocks at the far north of Westray. No, that sounds too dramatic, doesn’t it? I’ve actually just been wandering over the cliffs, sitting in the sunshine, and enjoying the bird life. At times there have been twelve Black Guillemots here, all sitting on the cliff edge displaying their fish for all to see. It’s clearly an important social signal.

Black Guillemots (Cepphus grylle) eat a wide variety of fish. I’ve been attempting to document and identify as many of them as possible. This one is a Butterfish (Pholis gunnellus), and is one of the easy ones to identify. Identification can be tricky, because many of the fish are very young and look significantly different from the adults, or look very similar to each other when they are young. It’s also tricky because fish out of water lose many of their distinguishing features. Barbels and fins stick to the fish’s body when out of water and give a completely different impression of their form. I’ll persist, however, and bring you many bird-with-fish photographs in the future. After all, that’s why you follow me, isn’t it? No?

Feel free to leave a Reply :)