Fulmar – 1994

Fulmarus glacialis – ADERYN-DRYCIN MAWR – Breeding resident

Map produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre
Breeding confirmed71
Breeding probable4
Breeding possibleexcluded from total
No of tetrads occupied75 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads15.7%

Mathew (1894) notes just one record, at Tenby in December 1890. Fulmars appeared at Flimston Stack Rocks and at Strumble Head in 1930, thereafter being seen prospecting the cliffs of the mainland and islands with increasing frequency (Lockley et al. 1949). Saunders (1976) dates the first egg found in Wales, near Flimston, at about 1940; another was seen on Skomer in 1949 and a chick hatched near Mathry in the same year (Fursdon 1950 ). Numbers had increased to 298 pairs occupying the cliffs of Pembrokeshire by 1969 (Operation Seafarer) and 1,409 pairs by the 1985-1987 Seabird Register survey. Colonies occur on all suitable cliffs with the largest on Skokholm (99 occupied sites in 1991), Ramsey (187 sites in 1992) and Skomer (742 sites in 1990).

Birds frequently visit cliff sites from November but do not normally lay until mid- to late May, the young fledging from August to early September. Adults move out to sea to moult following the fledging period, some becoming flightless. Normally only a few juveniles are seen inshore from mid-September to mid-October.

Violent south-west gales during the autumn and winter can drive Fulmars into the Irish Sea. When the wind veers to north of west they beat back past Strumble Head in impressive numbers, 1,000 on 1 September 1985 and 5,500 on 10 February 1988 being the highest totals recorded.

Dark morph, or ‘Blue’, Fulmars have been noted off Strumble Head between September and December and at Cemaes Head in August. They have also been seen in the vicinity of colonies at Dinas Head, Skomer and Skokholm in the breeding season, so the “dark phase chick, almost ready to fly” at Eastfield on 27 August 1960 (Davis 1960) might indicate that ‘Blues’ sometimes interbreed with our Pembrokeshire light morph birds.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

DAVIS, T.A.W. 1960. Field notes. Nature in Wales 6:143

FURSDON J. 1950.12th Annual Report of the West Wales Field Society. 14-15

SAUNDERS, D.R. 1976. A brief guide to the birds of Pembrokeshire. Five Arches Press.

More about the Fulmar in Pembrokeshire