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The Fulmar

FulmarThese birds are a distant relation of the Albatross and can be found all around the Irish coast, particularly in the summer. A gull like bird, they have white and grey under parts and have a thick neck and large head. They also have a straight stout bill with a hooked tip with distinctive tube shaped nostrils on the upper mandible. They are often seen heading out to sea, where they do a large portion of their foraging. The Fulmars diet includes fish, discards from trawlers, crustaceans and whale flesh.

In terms of breeding Fulmars often inhabit high cliff-faces often in large numbers. One of the most distinctive aspects about the Fulmar is their ability to defend their nests by launching a foul-smelling stream of stomach liquids from their throats and it's not pretty. Breeding mainly on sea cliffs, they nest on level ground in burrows and crevasses. They lay only the one egg, and it takes most of the summer for the chick to eventually fledge. Fulmars have a very long life span, and can often reach an age of 50 years. It is very common for them to forage hundreds of miles away from the coast, and feed on a diverse range of creatures off the surface of the sea including squid, jellyfish, crustaceans, and small fish. As well as this, Fulmars commonly pick up the remains of discarded fish thrown overboard from fishing vessels at sea.

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If you see a Fulmar in your area, Birdwatch Ireland would love to here about it. Please contact 353 (0)1 2819878 or send an email to to report your sighting.