Saturday 29th August comments: We have now come to that time of year where the majority of the breeding seabirds have left the island for their wintering grounds, but there is still one left: the Fulmar. These inconspicuous birds nest on quiet secluded edges and are the final birds to leave the island. It has been in the last week that these chicks have started to fledge and take to the wing. These youngsters will wander far and wide at sea travelling vast distances and will stay at sea for several years until they are ready to come back and breed.
The adults also leave the island fishing and feeding up again after another breeding season, returning to their breeding colonies around November time to inspect potential breeding sites. They then leave to island once again to feed up before returning to lay and incubate their single egg. Fulmars are one of our longest lived birds here on the May, and can live up to 50 years of age! As they are so long-lived, they do things particularly slowly: it takes around 60 days to incubate the egg and another 55-60 days before the chick is able to fly and leave the nesting site.
When you see a Fulmar in flight, you can see they don’t exert too much energy when doing so, just soaring and gliding across the water, mastering the currents of air rising from the sea: truly graceful birds. It can take the young birds a little getting used to though and they really need a good gust of wind to get up and flying. It seems to have been a reasonable breeding season so hopefully many of the young will return to the May to breed and live to ripe old ages.