Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 2, 2017


Dunstanburgh Castle

As my blogging catch up with The Big Trip continues I was going to make literary haste up the coast from Yorkshire to north of the border where we have spent most of the last month.  It would though, be remiss of me to pass along the Northumberland coast without mention of the Razorbill.  The Razorbill, for those unfamiliar them, is species of auk.  They are seabirds with a penchant cliff ledges and rocky crevices on or within which the female will lay her single egg.  Despite a recent decline in numbers there are still 130,000 pairs breeding around the coasts of Britain where sufficiently rocky coastlines are to be found.

Our close encounter with them however, was rather a surprise.  It was to Dustanburgh Castle that we had walked, a very pleasant mile stroll from the village of Craster.  On gaining entry we were informed of the whereabouts of the seabird colony where we could get good views of the birds, with particular mention of the Kittiwake.  Interesting!  The fairly intact ruins of the castle are a striking feature and a most worthwhile diversion in their own right, but I was, perhaps unsurprising, quite excited to spot a Razorbill within camera range.

I struggled to get a close as I could within plummeting into the waves and was moderately satisfied with my slightly hazy shots.  These, it turned out, would become quite academic.  A short way along the cliff path and behind the safety of the fence I found myself within 10 metres of the birds, which allowed for many happy minutes catching the following images.

Razorbill (scaled)

Razorbill (Alca torda) – the origin of the name can clearly be seen. Copyright 2017 Ross Gardner.

Razorbill billing (scaled)

Razorbills pair for life and engage in much courtship during breeding periods. Copyright 2017 Ross Gardner.

Alca torda

Copyright 2017 Ross Gardner.

Alca torda group

It’s not all peace and harmony though. Copyright 2017 Ross Gardner.

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