Click and Play 14may2013

Read by Yvonne

We are now very familiar with how a Puffin nests, in a burrow with some dried vegetation and feathers to make it more comfortable. Even if sometimes they do have to wrestle the vegetation out of the ground to take it into the burrow!

Puffin vs Vegetation

We have also had an in depth look at how to create a Storm Petrel nest. But the nests of other seabirds, such as Shags and Gulls, have only been fleetingly mentioned so far. So here is a quick guide on the nests of some of the other species around Alderney and Burhou.


Gannets nest in very large colonies, like on Les Etacs (5,800 pairs) and Ortac (2,000 pairs) around Burhou. They will construct nests out of dried vegetation and seaweed on cliff ledges, in the middle or top of the cliff, and lay just 1 egg. Unfortunately, they will also often use fishing nets as nesting material which they can get caught in - luckily this only happens rarely.

Gannet nest and Guillemot chick

Gannet nest and Guillemot chick

Guillemot and Razorbill

Guillemots and Razorbills are very different to all the other seabirds as they do not make a nest at all, but will instead lay their egg and rear the chick on the bare rock of high cliff faces. Remember that their eggs are pear-shaped so that they do not roll off the cliff.


The only species of seabird around Alderney, other than Razorbill or Guillemot, that will lay an egg onto the bare rock rather than creating a nest is the Fulmar. Fulmar will find a large, flat rock surface on cliff faces to lay their solitary egg and incubate it throughout June, July and August.

Fulmar laying an egg in the fog

Fulmar laying an egg in the fog


All 3 Gull species on Burhou will construct very similar nests, making them out of dried vegetation and twigs. Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls will nest colonially on the grass verge of cliff-tops and coastal islands.

Herring Gull nest

Herring Gull nest

But Great Black-backed Gulls prefer isolated areas on rocks rather than grass. All 3 species will lay 2-3 eggs.

It is difficult to separate the different Gull nests unless you see the adults incubating the eggs. But with over 1,000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Burhou, as opposed to just 30 or so Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls we can always make a safe guess that the majority of nests that we will find are those of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


Shags, like Puffins and Storm Petrels will nest in colonies, but apart from that their habits are very different. Shags will nest on low cliff faces seeking out ledges or alcoves in rocks and small caves. In these areas they will construct a wide nest out of twigs and seaweed in which they can lay up to 3 eggs.

Shag nest

Shag nest

Ringed Plover

The most exciting nest for me at the moment though is the Ringed Plover. This is because on Friday we found the first nest of the season on Platte Saline. Ringed Plovers will make a scrape in the ground amongst sand and small pebbles above the water line on a beach. They will then lay up to 4 eggs onto the ground before incubating them. Our nest currently had 2 eggs when we first saw it on Friday, but by Sunday there were 3!

Ringed Plover nest

Ringed Plover nest

I hope that you could now pick out these nests when visiting seabird colonies around the UK. But I would like to know what sort of bird nests you have seen where you live, and how have they been made? Let us know in the comments below.

Weather Forecast:

weather-symbolTuesday 14th May

Max 10 degrees / Min 8 degrees

Wind direction: West North Westerly 20mph

Description: Light Rain Shower

Today's Puffin Fact

Puffins typically carry up to 30 Sandeels in its bill at a time, but the record is 62!