Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Foul-mouthed Fulmars

Thursday's Guardian Country Diary is about the fulmars that nest on the magnesian limestone cliffs at Dawdon on the Durham coast. There are only a few pairs - fulmars don't nest at the high densities that some other seabirds favour. At this time of year they spend a lot of time on their nesting ledges, engaged in their chattering calls and mutual preening, strengthening pair bonds, and when they're not doing this ...

...... they just glide serenely along the cliffs. I could watch fulmars for hours - just a few shallow  beats of those long, narrow wings and then they glide effortlessly. They seemed to fly in a regular circuit, out over the sea then back inland, rising on the updraughts to skim along the top of the cliffs and then swoop down and sail past their nesting ledge. 

 If you stand still they fly past a little closer with every pass and have a good look at you, checking you out. 

This pair clearly had the best nesting ledge - a prime location with a relatively broad platform in the cliff face for their single egg, with a cavity behind and a superb view of the whole beach.

Then the peace of the afternoon was interrupted by this individual - a singleton, apparently without a mate, that had been flying circuits along the beach, passing closer to the nesting ledge with every pass until it finally decided to pay them a visit.

And that shattered the tranquillity of the afternoon. Here he is receiving a beakful of abuse from the sitting tenants, with the resident male unwilling to let the interloper within mutual preening distance of his mate.

So he left to resume gliding his solitary circuits of the beach. If you could translate what those two birds in the background were saying, it would be unrepeatable on a family blog

More fulmar pictures here


  1. Replies
    1. It's always interesting to watch animal behaviour, isn't it! Full of surprises.