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Durlston's Guillemot colonies are both the most easterly and second largest on the South Coast.  They were up until 2012 some of the most productive, with an average of 0.8 chicks per breeding site.

Tufty our most famous bird has not returned since 2013,must be assumed dead. He bred here for at least 16 years, maybe more. (He was identified by the white "mohican" hence the name!).

The surveys at Durlston are all done via our live cliff-camera link, which runs 400m from the cliff edge to the Visitor Centre where a remote control unit allows operation of the camera. 

The colony at Durlston is the largest in the area and the most eastern on the south coast of Britain and is at the southern most limit of their worldwide range.  The colony numbers some 400 birds of which about 200 are visible via the cliff camera. For high quality pictures, call into the Visitor Centre over the spring and early summer...

To find out more about Guillemots, join a guided walk or a seabird boat trip (May-July).


'Tufty' - the white tufted bird! (21st April 2008)


Guillemots 2021

The Guillemots chicks in this video (recorded 12 June 2021) vary from 5 - 12days old, the older ones have more of a white streak above their eye.  These chicks will stay on the ledges until they are about 21 days old when they will head out to sea. 

One of the earliest chicks to hatch - May 2021.




The first eggs have been laid on both the upper and lower ledges. 26.04.21

Guillemots 2020

The Guillemots are back and are packed onto the ledges here at Durlston.  Our cliff camera is filming them, and here are some clips.

A very sad end to the Guillemot year at Durlston, but a natural process - not for the faint hearted.

The last Guillemots on the empty ledges at the end of the breeding season,  with a Shag in silhouette


Chicks jumping (evening 16th June) - oh not already! - look for the small chicks on the left edge of the frame if you are struggling to see them!



10 day old chick  (8th June)  Cute or what!!


Chicks and more 1st June


First Chick has hatched : 24th May - video here


From 18th May - Focus on Razorbills as well as Guillemots

From 9th May - see the numbers, spot the egg.


Taken Tues 5th May 2020 - Guillemots packed on the upper ledge, I counted 192 on Monday evening, so numbers are good.  The seaward end used to be almost empty 20 years ago, now it has an extra 40 or so birds


Taken Fri 1st May


Taken on 30th April 2020 from our cliff camera and shows the Guillemots on the ledges with eggs, some of which are bright blue.

The eggs will be hatching around the 25th May (with luck).



Guillemots 2019

The ledges have been full of birds this season. This photo was taken through the cliff camera on 25 June 2019.


Guillemots 2014

The Lower ledge remained a successful breeding ground for the Guillemots, with more adults squashed on than in previous years, whether this is a result of the displacement from the upper ledge or natural increase can not be ascertained.  The Upper ledge again produced no chicks at all with all the eggs removed by the Ravens earlier in the season.  The displaced adults spent the season on the water and the ledge but never settling.  On one occasion a Raven was seen to attack a Guillemot, standing on it and pulling feathers off its breast, the Guillemot did escape but was not identified again

Guillemots 2013

This was another very poor breeding season, with not a single chick succesfully fledging from the upper ledge, once again due to the predation by a family of Ravens. The Lower ledge continues to be productive with chicks fledging, over 50 sites were identified and at least 30 chicks fledging.  This is an under estimate as the watching and recording of this ledge was reduced


Guillemots 2012

It was a very very poor breeding season at Durlston due entirely to the predation of the upper ledge by a family of Ravens.  On one morning 9 eggs were taken in a 30 minute period.  The ledge was emptied of eggs, chicks and adult Guillemots by the activity of the Ravens.  Only 3 chicks fledged from the upper ledge were the recent numbers have been 80+ chicks.



Guillemots 2011

Another successful breeding season, with well over 65 identified sites - where pairs of Guillemots are present throughout the  breeding season. The first egg was laid on 15th April (but subsequently lost), the first chick hatched 20th May and the first fledge noticed was 13th June.  All the birds had left the ledges by early July.

During the main seaon the number of birds counted on the upper ledge averaged at 260, with the maximum count on 17th Feb of 333 birds.

A few unusual incidents were noted, including predation by corvids, with Crow and Raven both seen trying to steal eggs from the ledge.


Guillemots 2010

Another successful breeding season, with well over 50 chicks fledged. The first were laid on 24th April and the first chicks hatched 24th May. All the birds had left by early July.


Durlston Guillemots 2009

The cliff camera was returned to the cliffs on 19th February.  324 Guillemots were counted on the upper ledge on 28th Feb - the maximum so far for the year.

Sad News : Tufty has not returned this year, after being here for at least 16 successive years.

Good News : The first eggs were laid on 22nd April, the first chick hatched 23rd May, and 64 chicks were identified as part of the breeding survey.  All the chicks have now left the ledges.  The adult Guillemots will return to Durlston occasionally from October onwards.

Guillemot on the water

19th June 2009 - Guillemots including young

First chick seen hatching 23 May 09


Egg (22/04/09) - frame 5  

Egg 22/04/09 - frame 1



Durlston Guillemots 2008

Highlights only - download the full report here

A count on the 10th April saw 343 on the upper ledge and a further 89 on the lower ledge. 

These numbers include "Tufty", 1 bridled and 1 'speckled' bird - the head plumage has not fully changed from the winter white to the breeding brown. Tufty again returned to his territory and successfully hatched and fledged a chick. The first chick was due 26th May.

We ran breeding  and feeding studies this year, including 'dawn to dusk' watches on both 5th & 9th June.


Chick at site 10  - Hatched 26th May 2008

egg at site 10

Two abandoned eggs - 18 April 2008 - later eaten by Herring Gulls

Egg at site 4 (at the front) ..........



Razorbills on cliff - Plus 2 Shags

Guillemot Report 2007

The Guillemots had another successful breeding season with over 50 chicks recorded, the majority of which fledged the ledge successfully.  However 3 were seen to be taken by predatory Great Black-backed Gulls.  The last Guillemots left 8th July 2007.


First egg seen through cliff camera on 24th April 2007

First chick (25th May 2007) - probably hatched on 24th May

Guillemots 20th May 2007

Chicks and Tufty - white splodge on back of head in background of picture!

Guillemot Report 2006


Is a common coastal resident, winter visitor and offshore passage migrant.

The annual seabird counts recorded 602 Guillemots at Durlston.  The records which follow were observations from the cliff camera.  The first record of the year was on 3rd January, when 220 birds were counted on the upper ledge (including ‘Tufty’, one bridled bird and a few in winter plumage).  The average of subsequent counts was 194 birds on the upper ledge and 32 on the lower, making a total of 226.  This is lower than in 2005 but the frequency of counts was greatly reduced in 2006.  The maximum count was on 27th February with 240 birds on the upper ledge and 73 on the lower.  Birds visited regularly between January and March, with permanent occupation from 16th April.  The first egg was laid on 24th April and the first chick was seen on 29th May (two eggs were abandoned and three chicks at least failed to fledge at the end of season).  Unusually, a very late chick was present on the lower ledge until 19th July. 

No birds were seen in the area from then until 20th November.  From 20th November, they were recorded on or around the ledges for 21 days.  Virtually all of these birds were in breeding plumage by this time.  Unfortunately, the camera lost its wiper this year and the study had to be abandoned from the start of June because of lack of visibility.

Guillemots 2005

The years Guillemot study was undertaken at Durlston Country Park through the remote camera positioned on the cliff.  Records of presence or absence in the early morning were taken throughout the year from the cliff looking back at the upper ledge.  The lower ledge is not visible from the cliff and on many occasions birds were present on the water and flying in the area, when not recorded on the ledge.

Video and DVD images were recorded during the year providing additional information 

Summary of results of upper Ledge Survey


Max count on upper ledge = 330

Average count of upper ledge = 224

Number of Eggs = 61

Number of Chicks Hatched = 59

Number of Chicks Fledged  = 52

Breeding productivity = 85%


Summary of Events by Date





40+ adults on ledge



No birds on ledge


Dec 04

14 early mornings on ledge



Guillemots on ledge



Guillemots on ledge



Guillemots on ledge again after 24 days



Guillemots on ledge – 2 bridled and Tufty



Adult bird caught ankle in crack on ledge, unable to escape, died – details of bird collected

Sheet 1, dvd 1


Guillemots back on ledge all day from this day on



314 adults on upper ledge, 84 lower ledge.  5 Bridled and ‘Tufty’



269 upper



First egg seen



20 eggs counted



52 eggs counted.  220 adults, 5 bridled and Tufty



First Chick – 3 chicks seen



28 chicks counted



59 chicks, including Tufty’s chick



First chick left ledge



204 adults



84 adults



51 adults , 3 chicks upper ledge



49 adults, 2 chicks upper



4 adults, 1 chick upper



No adults or chicks upper



Last chick on lower ledge



No Guillemots on ledges or water


Guillemot Report 2004

Overall a fairly successful year despite the weather, with an increase in the overall number of birds, whilst the number of breeding pairs remained relatively static.

Short Summaries 2000-2004

(Videos not yet studied as of 23/08/04)

This year the Guillemots returned in large numbers, over 300 counted on 16/04 – this is the highest number ever. The counts remained high during the season. The increase in numbers was particularly evident on the east end of the ledge – frame 5 and in frame 4.  (see video evidence)  There were a number of additional sites, some of which produced chicks.  Another area of increase was on the peripheral rocks – including the angled rock and the area previously occupied by Herring gulls – this may be a factor as to why the Herring Gulls did not breed in their usual spot on the ledge.

The number of eggs abandoned = 4 : (3 on 18/05 – 2 of which were later resat upon) plus another in frame 1 on 07/07.
Chicks lost : 2 of later chicks definitely lost earlier than fledging would have expected.
The last chick on lower ledge would have been 12-14 days old maximum when it left on 20/07/04

There were some extreme weather conditions this season with storms, strong winds and heavy rain – with reactions of the Guillemots particularly noticeable – the numbers of adults fell dramatically after the storms of 23/06 (low pressure 993, max gust 60mph) & 26 – 28 /06 (more strong winds and 11.5mm rain). Rain & gales 04-06/07 – pressure low – 972 min), more strong winds 08/07 and thunder 10/7.

The number of chicks appeared affected on the first occasion, with the adults being more static on the ledge than usual – normally the numbers would be expected to fall more gradually over a longer period. This year the numbers held up for longer – with 116 counted on 04/07.

Of the most identifiable birds

  • Tufty and the bridled : Tufty moved slightly further into the recess under his rock and hence became very difficult to monitor – no records of egg or chick were made, but I can’t be sure they did not have one, and Tufty was last seen 27/06.
  • Bridled birds : almost certain that a total of 5 seen at different points around the upper ledge – top rock x 2, 1 in frame 4, 5 and 1.  The bridled on top rock had a chick, as did that on number 4.

Overall a fairly successful year despite the weather, with an increase in the overall number of birds, whilst the number of breeding pairs remained relatively static.

Details from 2004

25/03/04 Camera returned to cliff
28/03/04 Guillemots on ledge
Tufty here
10/04/04 Guillemots on water, 8 Razorbills : 4 Puffins at Dancing Ledge
15/04/04 Guillemots in all day (upper & lower) : 1 bridled – top rock
16/04/03 300 on upper ledge : 1 bridled from 5
26/04/04 1st egg spotted ; top ledge frame 4
27/07/04 2 eggs, 3 bridled (middle frame 4, frame 5, top rock)
03/05/04 1 bridled back frame 1, 1 top rock
04/05/04 38 eggs : 2 bridled top rock = poss not pair
18/05/04 2 abandoned eggs – frame 4: abandoned egg at 3 – whether 3 or other ?
26/05/04 Razorbill on ledge
28/05/04 50 eggs
29/05/04 1st Chick hatched
16/06/04 40 chicks : 240 adults
17/06/04 Bridled – top rock – with chick
20/06/04 Chick at 3
23/06/04 Gale force winds
27/06/04 Most chicks left
03/07/04 136 adults : 4 chicks seen, others poss in
bridled frames 4,3 & 1
04/07/04 116 Guillemots upper ledge, 46 lower
egg inside lower ledge
05/07/04 5 chicks upper
07/07/04 3 chicks upper, 1 egg –frame 1 – Herring gull attempting to take chick frame 1
08/07/04 2 chicks : very windy and wet
09/07/04 2 chicks top rock
10/07/04 Upper: 8 adults, 1 chick top rock
lower : 28  adults
11/07/04 Upper ledge empty
lower : 5 adults
14/07/04 1 chick (very young) lower ledge, 3 adults
16/07/04 9 adults – lower
17/07/04 5 adults, 1 chick – still no white streak on head : lower
No Herring gull chicks this year
20/07/04 2 Guillemots 1 chick : lower
22/07/04 No birds lower or upper ledge

Guillemots 2003

This Guillemot colony is the most easterly on the south coast of Britain and at the edge of the birds geographical range. In 1993 a camera was set up on the cliffs to monitor this colony.  2003 was to have been a year of detailed study with Breeding and Feeding surveys being undertaken during April, May and June.  This would have allowed a comparison with the start of the study, and analysis of 10 years of results (the camera failed in one year).