30 July 2015

Mewslade Fulmars breeding

Last year I wrote about the Fulmars of the cliffs near Mewslade. I did not follow that up with a further post because the story of last year was not a happy one. The Fulmars at what I called site 1 were sitting, incubating for several weeks, only to abandon the site in mid July. Site 1 is on the cliff known as Lewes Castle, which is the eastern boundary of Fall Bay. Lewes Castle is much used by climbers, and I have little doubt that the Fulmars abandoned because of disturbance by climbers.

I have been watching the same site this year and have seen all the nuptial behaviour which I described last year. From late May until recently there has been an adult sitting at the site, incubating the egg. Fulmars lay only one egg per year and incubation is a lengthy process: about 50 days. It is impossible to look down into the nest site so I have not seen the egg, but the behaviour of the birds made it easy to deduce that there was an egg being incubated. This morning I could see a chick in the "nest" (Fulmars do not build a nest as such: it's essentially just bare rock, although I have observed the adults "housekeeping": moving bits of debris and throwing them out.).
An adult at the nest site, incubating in June this year

The chick in the same place, today, July 30

A closer view of the chick

This is progress compared to last year and I do hope that this young bird will make it. It will probably fledge at the end of August or beginning of September (the fledging period is around 46-51 days). It is therefore essential that there is no climbing on Lewes Castle until September. Anyone who does climb there before then will probably kill this bird.


Barry Stewart said...

I doubt the climbing fraternity would intentionally disturb these birds Philip and I'm sure if there are made aware of the situation they will act responsibly. Perhaps there's a climbing blog we can help inform them?

Barry Stewart said...

PS well done with your observations and excellent images

Anonymous said...

If you inform the South Wales BMC they will put it on their list of sites to be avoided. They have been very good over chough sites in the last ten years.
Gareth W