Fulmar – 2003-07 breeding

Fulmarus glacialis – ADERYN-DRYCIN MAWR – Breeding resident

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed7161
Breeding probable46
Breeding possibleexcluded from totalexcluded from total
No of tetrads occupied75 (of 478)67 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads15.7%13.7%

Fulmars are now one of the commonest breeding seabirds around the coast of the UK but only a century ago were virtually unheard of as far south as Pembrokeshire. Their spectacular spread around the coast of the British Isles in the last century  and a half is one of the best documented of any bird species. The Seabird 2000 survey estimated that there were just under 538,000 apparently occupied sites in Britain and Ireland.

In Pembrokeshire Fulmars can now be found virtually everywhere around the coastline. They nest on sheer cliff faces on small ledges in small groups and sometimes as individual pairs.  Near Saundersfoot they nest behind the tangled roots of cliff edge trees, on the predator free islands sometimes on wide accessible ledges but always they try to find as much height as they can.  Only where the cliffs are comprised of low sloping sandstone or are exposed fully to the glare of the sun are they absent. They are fairly easy to count as they occupy their sites for many months each year, and are only totally absent in September and October when they are at sea moulting.

The number of occupied sites increased steadily in the county from the first known breeding site at Flimston in 1940, to what seems to be a discernable peak of near to 2,500 sites in the mid to late 1990’s.  Annual counts are very variable as many of the sites are occupied by non breeding or prospecting pairs.

Between the counts from 1985-88 and the Seabird 2000 counts, Fulmar numbers in the county jumped from 1,409 sites to almost exactly 2,500 sites. However these totals  mask the changes from 1996, when detailed annual counts on Ramsey, Skomer, Skokholm, Castlemartin, St Margaret’s and Caldey, suggest that the trend in subsequent years has been at best stability and more probably the population is showing a tendency to a steady decline. The distribution maps also show a decline in tetrad occupancy

Steve Sutcliffe

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the Fulmar in Pembrokeshire

Fulmar – 1994

Fulmarus glacialis – ADERYN-DRYCIN MAWR – Breeding resident

Map produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre
1984-88
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

Fulmar – 1980s winter

Fulmarus glacialis – ADERYN-DRYCIN MAWR – Breeding resident

The BTO winter atlas showed that Fulmars were present in most coastal 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 216 birds. Fulmars occupy their breeding sites on many days throughout the winter.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Data collected by volunteers for the BTO. Lack, P. 1986 Atlas of wintering birds in Britain and Ireland. T & A.D. Poyser.

More about the Fulmar in Pembrokeshire

Fulmar Petrel – 1949

Fulmarus glacialis glacialis

Mathew knew of only one, caught on a cod line in Tenby Bay Dec 1980. 

Appeared in 1930 at Flimston Stack Rocks and landed on cliffs there in 1931.  Since then, they have been present in the breeding season at many cliffs in the north, west, and south, but have not yet been recorded (1948) laying eggs, although breeding in the adjoining county of Cardigan (1947).

R.M.Lockley, G.C.S.Ingram, H.M.Salmon, 1949, The Birds of Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Field Society

More about the Fulmar in Pembrokeshire

Fulmar – 1894

Fulmarus glacialis

A very rare accidental straggler in the autumn and winter.

This, the largest of the British Petrels, is a well-known Polar species, inhabiting a few islands to the extreme north of the British Isles; St. Kilda, a remote island of the Hebrides group, being its metropolis, and here the birds annually resort to nest in incredible numbers. When obtained anywhere in the south, the Fulmar is generally picked up, sometimes inland, either dead, or in an exhausted state, when it is incapable of flight. There is only a single instance of its occurrence in Pembrokeshire, and this was one that was brought alive to Mr. C. Jefferys, of Tenby, in December, 1890, having been caught on a cod line in Tenby Bay.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Fulmar in Pembrokeshire

Fulmar

Fulmarus glacialis – ADERYN-DRYCIN MAWR – Breeding resident

Fulmar – 2003-07 breeding

Fulmarus glacialis – ADERYN-DRYCIN MAWR – Breeding resident Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 71 61 Breeding probable 4 6 Breeding possible excluded from total excluded from total No of tetrads occupied 75 (of 478) 67 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 15.7% 13.7% Fulmars are now one of the commonest breeding seabirds around […]

Fulmar – 1994

Fulmarus glacialis – ADERYN-DRYCIN MAWR – Breeding resident 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 71 Breeding probable 4 Breeding possible excluded from total No of tetrads occupied 75 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 15.7% Mathew (1894) notes just one record, at Tenby in December 1890. Fulmars appeared at Flimston Stack Rocks and at Strumble Head in 1930, thereafter […]

Fulmar – 1980s winter

Fulmarus glacialis – ADERYN-DRYCIN MAWR – Breeding resident The BTO winter atlas showed that Fulmars were present in most coastal 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 216 birds. Fulmars occupy their breeding sites on […]

Fulmar – 1894

Species account from the 1894 ‘Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands’ by Rev M A Mathew