Thursday 15th August comments: Even as we enter mid-August and the seabird breeding season is almost finished, we still have work to do. Over the last few days we’ve been working with our Fulmars and that may sound reasonable (it’s just another seabird right?) but until you work with Fulmars, you have no idea…let us explain…
Fulmars are very specialist seabirds as they are members of the tubenose family; they have the ability to excrete salt from seawater in a tube on top of the mouth (basically acts as a desalination unit). The species is very long living with records of birds of forty years old whilst they do not breed until they are 6-8 years old, so as I say very specialist.
However if you’ve ever been close to a Fulmar, you’ll remember it for one thing; its defensive mechanism… The species has the ability to fend off attackers by firing an oily fishy substance in their direction and boy if it hits you, you smell for days! That is why Fulmars are very rarely predated and that’s why scientists grimace when it comes to working with them.
On the Isle of May we have 280 pairs (slight decrease on previous season) and over the last few days we’ve been ringing the chicks on the island and as you could imagine, it’s been a bit of a stinky matter (however after several washes I think the team are starting to smell fresh again). It’s been good fun with a serious element and once figures are crunched we’ll reveal just how well they’ve done.