1 EAGLETON NOTES: Fulmars

.

.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Fulmars

I have, ever since I came to Lewis, had a liking for fulmars. Unlike gulls which they resemble they keep themselves to themselves and have remained a genuine seabird. They are in fact petrels and are easily distinguished from gulls by their rapid, stiff-winged flight. The Northern fulmar was originally native to the Hebridean outlying islands of St Kilda but was extensively hunted for food and expanded its range into northern Scotland and thence southwards as far as the northern coast of France. 

They are tubernoses like albatrosses and have the ability to defend themselves by projecting, from tubes above their beak, an oily substance from their stomach at an attacker. Birds of prey attacking a bird on the nest are likely to meet a sticky and often fatal end as their feathers get clogged up. I'm told by people who have experienced it that the smell lingers for a long time however much you wash. The lesson is don't annoy fulmars near their nests. I wonder how the hunters managed.

These pictures are from the Bull of Lewis taken a few weeks ago when the chicks were young.






28 comments:

  1. Great shots. They are a grand bird.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The hunters probably managed from afar! They're a lovely looking bird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee, the hunting of guga (young gannets) and fulmars was a very precarious occupation on the cliffs of the Islands. It would make a good post at some time. Thanks for the idea.

      Delete
  3. I love these photos of these birds....especially love how they are nestled among the wildflowers in the grass.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Virginia they are fortunate on that small sea stack to have lots of room. On many cliffs they have very little room to cling to.

      Delete
  4. They are very handsome birds with a unique adaptation. Nice post.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great fulmar pictures Graham. I had no idea that your island nickname is "The Bull of Lewis". Please don't explain how you acquired that moniker - it is easy to guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YP all good Highland bulls have a fine head of hair: That must be it.

      Delete
  6. Beautiful birds and beautiful pictures! I am always thrilled to learn something new about nature and culture.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I just LOVE that top photo, Graham. It's got everything!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for letting me learn - yet again - something new! I would have naively assumed these are a kind of gull, and I've never heard the name fulmar before. Also, I didn't know about their way of defending themselves and their chicks. My guess is that the hunters wore protective clothing and/or used methods for which they did not have to get too close, such as shooting, or throwing nets over the birds from afar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meike it's made me very curious to know exactly how they did manage to harvest the fulmars. I must do some research.

      Delete
  9. Beautiful photos, and I love the downy chicks... (As you might remember I got to follow a couple of young gulls this summer.) Not sure if I've heard the name fulmar before, although when I looked up the Swedish word I recognised having heard/seen that (translating back to English, we call them "stormbirds").

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Monica I well remember your gulls. When I was stranded in Morecambe after the Nighthawk on the motorway incident there was a family of young gulls on the roof below my bedroom. I'm interested in the Swedish name for the fulmar.

      Delete
  10. What lovely photos, and what beautiful snowy white feathers on their breasts. Beautiful birds. Thanks, GB.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DeeDee as I said I have always had a very soft spot for them.

      Delete
  11. My first Fulmar photos were taken with a 150mm lens up near Coll somewhere. The yuucky oil fell about two feet short but made me realise they can project it quite some distance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now you say that CJ I have a vague recollection of you recounting that incident many moons ago.

      Delete
  12. Hey there, Graham. I've only just found your last comment on my blog...sorry for the delay in responding.....below is what I wrote in reply to your comment.

    " I made quite a few Kiwi friends during my time managing the island and being its sales and marketing manager as well. I always linked up with the New Zealanders when we attended the same trade shows/seminars etc. And I spent a week in Christchurch in late 1986 attending the TANZ Convention. The New Zealanders were always a fun mob to hang about with...they loved to party! lol A guy called Jerry/Gerry who flew a seaplane and other light aircraft out of Queenstown down to Invercargill and all places in between (a tourism operation) became a good mate. He and his wife along with one of their neighbours paid a visit to the island in November 1986 - they stayed for a week. Good people they were.

    The a couple of the local police/CIB in Christchurch did me a favour and handed out all my promotional brochures because I'd run out of time to do so and had to return to the island...too partying! They kept in touch a couple of times after I'd return to Aus. lol "

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee I did se your response to my comment. I also saw this comment and I'm not sure why I didn't respond at the time. Life is just so full and of course being a man I have difficulty multi-tasking. Actually it's a case of ARADD really.

      Delete
  13. I had heard of fulmars but never connected the word with a particular bird. If that does not sound clear, I wonder if you know how it is to hear about things and get a vague impression of what they must be like, but not be able to zoom in on the detail in your head? I imagine fulmars wheeling in the wind by the sea, but if you were to ask me WHAT EXACTLY I imagine wheeling in the wind, well - that would have been a different matter. But now I know what they look like, and I also know that jerky kind of flight, so different from the sailing of a gull.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Jenny, I'm glad that I was able to help you clarify matters and, yes, I do know what you mean.

      Delete
  14. I've never heard of Fulmars before. You have some great shots here, Graham.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Liz. I couldn't get any decent ones in flight that day unfortunately. Pauline and I went back there and I've yet to have a good look at the photos I took then. That's a job for this week now that I'm back home with no visitors for another week or so.

      Delete