Our Neighborhood's Biodiversity Map

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Shared by : Arushi Madan (UK)
Habitat : Antarctica, Arctic, Europe, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales
Status : Least Concern
The Fulmar is a gull-like bird that nests on rocky cliff edges. The name "Fulmar" comes from two Old Norse words - fúll meaning "foul" and márwhich means "gull." This refers to the awful-smelling stomach oil. Although Fulmars looks like gulls they are actually related to petrels. Fulmars are one of the few bird species that have a well-developed sense of smell. They can use it to locate fish by the smell of fish oil rising to the surface of the water. The Fulmar is a superb glider of the open Northern ocean. They brave storms and rough weather when other sea birds might seek refuge in the coast. They use the wind to range over large distances, almost effortlessly. Their flight is quite different to gulls, with stiffer wings. Using the updrafts generated by cliffs, they often wheel tirelessly round and round their breeding sites in a characteristic aerial flight display. Fulmar feed on small fish, squid, crabs, pelagic molluscs and krill that they hunt from the water surface or in shallow dives, but they are also scavengers. Like some other seabirds, Fulmars have a gland above their nasal passage that excretes a saline solution to help them get rid of all the salt in the water they imbibe while feeding. Fulmars create a kind of stomach oil that they store in a section of their stomachs called the proventriculus.
They use this oil for 2 reasons: 1. They spray it out as a defensive measure. It can gum up the wings of predator birds, causing them to plunge to their deaths. 2. They can regurgitate it as an energy-rich resource they use for long flights or to feed their young.
Fulmars are long lived. The longevity record is almost 44 years old, but they are likely to regularly live longer. If threatened, nesting Fulmars will spit a foul-smelling oily mixture on to intruders. In the 1900s, this oil was considered valuable for its medicinal properties, so Fulmars were harvested by the inhabitants of the islands they visited.
The Norse used to call them "foul ghouls" for their pungent-smelling stomach oil, but this evolutionary trait is both a defensive tactice and mid-flight energy source.
Fulmars return every year to the same nest sites to meet their long-term partner, well ahead of the breeding season, often in December.
They greet and bond with each other billing and head bobbing, with much loud cackling calls while keeping their bills open and throat distended.
They visit their nest sites on the cliffs on calm days increasingly all through winter until the breeding season. Despite the long-term pair bonds, there is much 'visiting' of neighbours and extra-pair copulation both by males and the females. After mating, Fulmar return to sea before egg laying (the pre-laying 'exodus'), where they presumably store up on reserves for their long incubating period (up to six weeks). Unlike other birds, female fulmars store sperm and the last copulations might take place three weeks before laying eggs. They lay a single egg in May, with no replacement if lost, on a bare cliff ledge, or a scrape or rabbit burrow on steep soil slopes. Both parents incubate for about of about six weeks, with changeovers every 4 days. Their superb gliding abilities allow them to range hundreds of miles from the nest site itself in search of food.
The Fulmar looks similar to a gull, but with straighter, stiffer wings and a thickset neck. It has a white head and underside, grey wings and grey-yellow beak. Fulmars are identifiable by the prominent, tubular nostrils on top of their bills.
Distribution and habitat
In the 1800s, Fulmars only nested in one or two places on islands in the far north of Scotland. Since then, they have expanded their range and can be found in nests around the UK's coast, nesting in colonies on cliffs or flocking to feed out at sea. The Fulmar can be found in a number of locations including Antarctica , Arctic, Europe, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. The species is found throughout the north Atlantic and North Sea. Native: Denmark; Faroe Islands; France; Germany; Greenland; Iceland; Ireland; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Russian Federation (European Russia); Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; United Kingdom Vagrant: Belgium; Czech Republic; Finland; Poland; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain.
The species was subject to intensive exploitation for food in the past, and hunting remains in Greenland, Svalbard and the Faroe Islands. In some breeding colonies the species is susceptible to predation from invasive mammals, such as foxes, rats, mice etc. It is vulnerable to oil spills, particularly in the North East Atlantic, but increasingly in its Northern range. It is highly susceptible to ingesting marine litter and plastics. Bycatch in fisheries is also a significant threat, with large numbers recorded as caught in longline fisheries in the North East Atlantic and in trawl fisheries as well as in gillnet fisheries. It is susceptible to collision and displacement from offshore wind farms It may also be disturbed and displaced by shipping lanes. Large wrecks of this species in North Sea in Feb 2004 thought to be caused by multiple factors, namely low food abundance, persistent bad weather, higher levels of pollutants, and secondary diseases.
Conservation measures
Conservation Actions Underway
The species is covered by the EU Birds Directive as a migratory species. It occurs within 29 marine Important Bird Areas, including in the Faroe Islands, France, Germany, Iceland, Svalbard (Norway) and the United Kingdom. Within the EU it is listed within 46 Special Protection Areas. Under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive it will be monitored for plastic ingestion.
water abstraction and drought has led to the loss of spawning habitats/ground and has caused massive population declines.
Conservation Actions
Proposed Identification and protection of important sites at sea, as well as for prey species.
Continued monitoring of marine litter ingestion, and increased efforts for removal of plastic from oceans.
Monitoring of seabird bycatch across all relevant fishing gears and implementation of bycatch mitigation measures.
The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a Living Seas vision, where coastal and marine wildlife thrives alongside the sustainable use of the ocean's resources.

Sources/References :
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22697866/1albatross-like bird that breeds on cliffs around our coastline


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