FULMAR

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your Birding Month -

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.

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