Where to see Guillemots in North Devon
Like most auks, guillemots spend most of the winter out at sea. However, the right conditions will bring them close to the
shore. I've seen them occassionally in Ilfracombe harbour after strong northerly winds. Usually only single birds appear but
sometimes there may be three or four. Another favoured site seems to be the back of Capstone hill.
Guillemots nest from late April to early July. North Devon has two of the largest auk colonies in the South-West. Both are on inaccessible cliffs: one on
the mainland; one on Lundy Island.
The Lundy colony is concentrated around the Jenny's Cove area in the West to North-West of the Island. They can be viewed
with a telescope from the cliff tops, either wedged in long lines on precarious ledges or floating in 'rafts' with other auk
species. If you are lucky enough to stay on Lundy, there are occasional boat trips around the island with a Clovely fishing boat (weather permitting). You
will also see Guillemots on the crossing from the mainland in any of the big boats (Oldenburg, Waverley, or Balmoral).
The mainland colony is around the Woody Bay - Heddon's Mouth cliffs to the west of Lynmouth. This colony is extremely difficult to view from the cliff top.
You can see the offshore 'rafts' of auks quite easily with a telescope, but the best way to see this colony is from the sea.
Exmoor Coastal Cruises run boat trips from Lynmouth harbour most days in the summer but usually only go as far as Woody Bay. However, they do a
longer trip (roughly once a week) that will take you as far as Heddon's Mouth. This is a small boat (30 passengers) which means that although it won't sail
in bad weather, it does have the advantage that it can get a lot closer to the birds than either the Waverley or Balmoral.