THE BEAUTIFUL, GENTLE-FACED, stiff-winged Fulmar is one of the great success stories of the UK’S breeding bird population over the last 100 years. At the end of Queen Victoria’s reign there were 20,000 pairs on St Kilda, but fewer than 500 pairs throughout the whole of the rest of the British Isles. The first English breeding took place in 1922 in Yorkshire and in Wales in 1931. Now, there are more than half a million breeding pairs across the country, spread around all of our coast (wherever there are suitable steep cliffs). And out of the breeding season, nearly two million birds winter in our waters. Though they look a bit like gulls, with their grey wings and white underparts and heads, Fulmars are, of course, petrels, tubenoses, relatives of the shearwaters and storm-petrels. In fact, this is the closest thing to an albatross most of us will see in British waters, and you can see the family resemblance in the dark eye ‘make-up’ and the curiously shaped bill, as well as the straight-winged flight.