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Brunnich's Guillemots, Uria lomvia, swimming in the sea off Alkefjellet, Svalbard - 1

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Brunnich's Guillemots are a medium sized bird 40-44cm long (16-17.5") with a 64-75cm (25-29.5") wingspan, they weigh around 700-1200g with little or no difference between the sexes.

I remember thinking on this particular day that they have to be one of the toughest birds on the planet. With an air temperature just above freezing and a cold penetrating wind, these small animals took from comfortless rock cliffs, flew through the cold air and dived into the frigid sea to feed before returning to their exposed nests on the cliffs.

Made me feel quite feeble as I stood on deck in several layers of clothes, hood up and gloves on while looking forwards to the warming soup I could smell being cooked for us inside.


Picture copyright Paul Ward

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