The property market is booming and due to high demand and low supply, we need to be especially protective of our abodes. We are good-natured to most of our neighbours and require little space, but if a fellow guillemot attempts to land on your ledge, appropriate behaviour is to peck and shove the well-meaning intruder, even if they just want to rest. Ideally this should be done at the moment of landing, before they regain balance, and if necessary, follow through, chasing them to the sea below and fight for 5 – 10 minutes to drive home the point.
As the season ends at our summer retreat, the new generation will be preparing for their coming of age; their half-fledged flight. Other birds pander to their young’s unreadiness, but not us! We need to head South before the onset of winter and so the chicks have only half developed their wings and feathers. But they are perfectly capable of an unsteady glide from the cliff face to the sea below. Protocol is as follows; fathers head down to the sea where they wait, calling up, goading their young into taking the leap. “Come on you wimp.” “There’ll be no supper if you don’t grow up.” Mothers stay with the chicks and when they finally pluck up the courage to jump, will follow them closely, yelling words of derogatory encouragement. Sometimes a firm but motherly shove is required.