Zeekoeten (Uria aalge) op een drijvende klif
Sula , Volume 4 - Issue 3 p. 100- 103
Many species of seabirds have been seen sitting or standing on floating wood or litter. This behaviour is particularly well known for the Gannet, terns, gulls, skuas and the Fulmar, but it is much less common in auks. Species like the Gannet and gulls appear to stand on floating matter especially in wind still conditions. A good example was seen on 29 August 1990 in the German Bight (table 1). A mousse of deceased plankton was covering large areas of surface water. Swimming in this sort of drab is as deadly for good insulating feathers as is oil, and standing on wood is indeed the proper answer to this sort of conditions. Sightings of Guillemots standing on floating matter were highly unusual. On 8 June 1990 near the breeding colony at Helgoland, however, a piece of floating wood drifted by (300x25x5cm) with 7-14 Guillemots standing on it and 30 others showing interest, swimming around it. The behaviour of the birds standing high and dry was very similar to that on ledges in the colony: preening, fights, site disputes. On two pieces of wood of similar size, two days later, in the same area again some 40 Guillemots crowded together to try and stand on it as long as the neighbours permitted them to do so. We feel that this behaviour should be seen as being some sort of play, rather than an ’escape' from adverse conditions. Oiled Guillemots, although sometimes nearly sinking were never seen to take advantage of floating debris.
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