Learn to love our very own albatross
Fulmars get a raw deal. Casual birdwatchers and non-birders are prone to overlooking them on account of their gull-like colouring, and even those who do know them for what they are spend too much time talking about their habit of vomiting a foul-smelling stomach oil on anyone who gets too close to their nests, rather than appreciating their stiff-winged gliding elegance. But they’re members of the family Procellariidae (the petrels and shearwaters), of the order Procellariiformes, which also includes storm-petrels, diving petrels, and those renowned wanderers of the southern oceans, the albatrosses. Take a good look and it’s not difficult to see the resemblance between them, both in plumage and in the ‘tubenoses’ that help them smell both food and nesting sites even when far out at sea, as well as in that stiff-winged flying style we have mentioned. But, while the appearance of an actual albatross, such as the Black-browed that showed up along the East Coast this spring, creates huge excitement among birders, Fulmars offer the rest of us the chance to get a scaleddown but still impressive albatross fix from the comfort of a British seaside resort.
HOLIDAY TICK Fulmars are a common sight at British seaside resorts OCEAN WANDERER A Laysan Albatross, in Hawaii – like all albatrosses, they range far and wide at sea