Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On the Ledge

Northern Fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis
Gliding with a wonderful grace, their blue-grey upper wings held stiffly outright the Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) is an imperious flier. While they spend most of their lives far, far out at sea, F. glacialis can be seen in large numbers at the moment at their various nesting colonies (c. 3,500 individuals) along the coast of Ireland (1). They breed monogamously, in colonies that can be quite large on cliff faces. Pairs nest in depressions in the cliff, as can be seen in the photograph above. F. glacialis is widely distributed throughout Britain and Ireland now, but this is quite a recent occurrence – indeed the first record of a breeding pair in Ireland was a recent as 1911 in Co. Mayo (2).
Northern Fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis
Although they are superficially similar to gulls, F. glacialis possesses a suite of features that places them in the order Procellariiformes. These are the tube-nosed seabirds, so called as they have nostril tubes on their bills that channels salt extracted and excreted from sea water they ingest to the end of their bills where it falls off (3).
Northern Fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis
  1. Sterry, 2004. Collins Complete Guide to Irish Wildlife p. 34
  2. Beletsky, 2006. Collins Birds of the World pp. 33-35
  3. Fisher, 1966. Bird Study 13 pp. 5-76

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