There are four members of the Auk family that can be seen at the Mull of Galloway, guillemot, black guillemot, razorbill and puffin. The first three all breed here with puffin frequently being seen during late May and June feeding just offshore.

Puffin with their bright colourful beaks are easy to identify when seen up close, but at a distance can be a bit trickier. Puffin are a lot smaller than other Auks and have white faces. It is this size and their white faces that stand out, making them easier to identify than their colourful beaks when looking at them from afar.


Puffin – Photo credit: Rob Conn

Black guillemot are also quiet easily distinguished. Their mainly black bodies with white patches on their wings make them stand out from other Auks. If seen up close they have vivid red feet and the same vivid red colour on the inside of their beaks.


Black guillemot – Photo credit: Rob Conn

Guillemot and razorbill are a bit trickier, sharing a lot of similarities. Both birds are evenly matched in size and share a very similar body shape and colouration. Razorbill however, have a thicker, chunkier beak, said to resemble an old fashioned cut-throat razor, hence their name. They are also darker in colour, appearing black on top compared to the chocolaty brown or charcoal grey of the guillemot. Razorbill also have a more upturned and sharply pointed tail compared to the shorter, blunter tail of the guillemot. The shorter tail of the guillemot makes their legs far more visible when in flight. This combined with their thinner, pointier beak helps to identify them. When seen on the cliffs guillemot will usually form tight groups, whilst razorbill are much more spread out, often individually or in pairs.


Guillemot – Photo credit: Rob Conn


Razorbill – Photo credit: Rob Conn

Bridled guillemot are a form of guillemot with a white eye ring and a thin white line extending behind the eye. It is not regarded as a subspecies, but merely as an example of dimorphism. This form of guillemot is quiet rare at the Mull of Galloway and can offer an added challenge to the keen observer seeking to spot one among the many guillemot.

Guillemot and bridled guillemot – Photo credit: Rob Conn