Sunday 20thJune comments: Happy father’s day everyone and in the seabird colonies of the Isle of May plenty of fathers do their fair share of duties from incubating eggs to bringing in vital food supplies. However there is one father which goes beyond these duties, as we say hello to the Guillemot dads.
Guillemots pair up in early spring and birds will lay a single egg, incubating under their feet (a bit like Penguins as they don’t build a nest structure). After hatching, both parents raise the chick but then after 20-21 days the male will take the youngster out to the relative safety of the open sea and fend for it over the next 6-8 weeks. To do this, they have to call the chick down from the tops of the cliffs (regardless of the height of the cliffs) and the father will then lead the chick away where it will grow flight feathers and become independent.
For a Guillemot chick of 20-21 days old, its a massive leap into the unknown as these small youngsters still not fully winged, have to leap off the cliff tops and into the sea below. As a result the youngsters are known as ‘jumplings’ and so begins the jumpling season.
It’s an unusual strategy but one which works as the population is increasing and so it is the fathers who will look after the chick far out to sea. So Happy father’s day everyone especially to our superb Guillemot dads!