Michelle Barton and Chris Anderson shepherded this little seabird back to the water after it was seen blown into a telephone pole and onto the ground. Many thanks to Chris and Michelle for taking care of the Arctic voyager and for sharing their photos..

Just like the Razorbill spotted earlier in the month, Thick-billed Murres are members of the Auk family. They are deep sea divers and seen off the coast of New England during the winter months. Thick-billed Murres are occasionally blown onto shore during intense storms.

I read that Thick-billed Murres have very pointy eggs and wanted to see what one looked like. Don’t you think they are beautiful? I love the shape, and patterns. Image courtesy Audubon.


Pat Morss writes,

In response to Mike’s sighting of Razorbills at the Dog Breakwater – exciting, Anne-Lise and I and family were in Norway last June to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday and our 50th wedding anniversary.  We took a side trip north of the Arctic Circle to the Lofoten Islands.  On the island of Ross, we took a zodiak trip out to the “bird mountain” rookeries including Razorbills and Black-legged Kitttiwakes.

Best, Pat

Thanks so very much to Pat Morss for sharing the baby Harp Seal photos and story, and now the Razorbill photos. I think it wonderful for us to see the connection between these beautiful creatures visiting the shores of Cape Ann and their Arctic breeding grounds.


A second Northern Gannet, in little over a week, has come ashore to die on a Cape Ann Beach. Jim Dowd messaged from the Backshore that the Gannet was resting on the rocks and was not walking well.

Heartbreaking to see, the usually majestic Northern Gannet is struggling to survive.

This beautiful Northern Gannet appears to have the same neurological symptoms of the mysterious disease that has caused over one hundred Gannets to wash ashore on Cape Cod beaches. Veterinarians are sending samples of the dead and dying birds to the USDA to see if federal experts can find the cause. A harmful algae bloom (often referred to as Red Tide) is suspect.

The Gannet tried and tried to take flight, but to no avail, wobbling instead and repeatedly tipping over.

The first dying Northern Gannet seen on a Cape Ann beach was shared by Ann Rittenburg. On July 12th, she discovered the bird struggling at Good Harbor Beach. Dianne Corliss, Gloucester’s Animal Control Officer, rescued the seabird. Dianne tried to help, but the Gannet was eventually put to sleep. She warns that the bills of Northern Gannets are extremely powerful. If you come across a Gannet on the beach, do not go near it as they are known to go for the eyes and necks of people. 

What makes the deaths even more troubling is that Northern Gannets are winter migrants through our area, and most months are spent at sea. During the summer season they are typically at their North American breeding grounds, which are six well-established colonies, three in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, and three in the North Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland.

My husband Tom and I saw  these magnificent seabirds from the shores of Provincetown last spring. They were feeding along with the Right Whales. The Northern Gannets soared high above the whales and then plunged straight down with a powerful ferocity. It was dramatic and gorgeous to see. I hope the same illness or Red Tide that is killing the Gannets will not affect whales.