Murre Massacre

On January 31st I came across a Common Murre (Guillemot) inside the dunes on Daniel’s Head, Cape Sable Island. eBird requires the species to be added to a Nova Scotia checklist but this past few weeks they have hardly been scarce. We are probably seeing the effect of the 24 hours south-easterly storm with driving rain as alcids just seem to at most sites.  The Daniel’s Head murre was a good photo op and so I sat in the car and waited for it to come to me on the falling tide.

It took a while for it to get the hang of things, slipping into the draining water off the large marsh before the bend in the road, and not the ocean entrance side either. It came past and photos were taken, then it zipped through the pipe and hopes were that it was on its way, albeit with a gull gauntlet to run. It got so far then paddled into a side pool, one that would soon be mud, and climbed out of the water. At this I tried to catch it, intending to take it to the ocean side where it at least stood a chance. It wasn’t having any of it though and scuttered out into the flow, last seen heading the right way.

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Today I was at West Head gull watching when I saw another Common Murre. This one was inside the wharf and was soon killed by a Great Black-Backed Gull. If I have seen this happen to two so far (I saw one meet the same fate about ten days ago) how many are perishing, Dovekies too? You wonder why they come inside and why they don’t dive and get the hell out of there when the big gulls notice them. Sad to see and the gulls have to eat too but you do feel for the murres.


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