Guillemot, Isle of May National Nature reserve

I'm not a baby!

High up on a cliff face, Baby Guillemot only knows the ledge that he was born on as he waits for his parents to feed him tasty fish meals…

High up the cliff, way above the sea...

High up the cliff, way above the sea, great colonies of kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots build their nests. There, lived a guillemot family. They had their own ledge. One they came back to every year, to raise a chick. All the guillemot chick knew was the ledge. He never left it.

'That's because you're a baby,' said Mother Guillemot, gently.

'I'm not a baby!' he sulked.

Father Guillemot leapt from the ledge and flew down to the great roaring sea below. He brought back fish for the chick to eat from his beak.

'I'm not a baby, you know,' he said as he ate.

When the cold wind blew, mother Guillemot tucked the chick safely under her wing.

'I'm not a baby!' he said, but he snuggled closer all the same.

And when great black-backed gulls swooped, looking for a tasty baby snack, his parents kept him safe. 'Because you're our baby,' they said.

'I don't want to be a baby,' he cried. 'I hate being a baby! I never get to do anything!'

Leaving the ledge

Then one day, the chick knew it was time for him to do something. It was time for him to leave the ledge. He walked up and down, flapping his wings and bobbing his head, stopping every so often to peer over the edge. It was a long way down. He felt scared.

'How can I fly with these tiny little wings and big paddly feet?' he pleaded to his parents. 'I'm only a baby. I can't do it. You can't make me. I'll stay here on this ledge!' he cried. 'For ever and ever!'

But his father nodded his head towards the sea and gave a loud cry.

'He's telling you to leap,' said his Mother helpfully.

'Leap?' he cried. 'But I don't know how to fly!'

His father called again. The chick took a deep breath and bravely stepped off the ledge, flapping his wings as hard as he could.

He didn't glide like the other seabirds. But he didn't fall either. His big feet and flapping wings slowed him up and he dropped gently down to the sea.

'That wasn't so bad!' he said as he landed with a splash. 'It was really quite exciting! His father dropped down into the sea next to him.

'You'll be flying properly in no time,' he said, as he showed him how to make little dives underwater, so he could catch fish for himself.

'Goodbye, Baby!' called his mother tearfully, from high up on their ledge.

'I'm not a baby any more!' he called back, proudly.

With his father guiding him, he swam out to sea. He wouldn't be back for two years. What adventures he would have.