fulmar defined in 1930 yearfulmar - Fulmar;
fulmar - Bill yellow; legs and feet grey; mantle and tail grey; quills dusky; head, neck, and under parts white. Length, nineteen inches.
The fulmar is the largest of the petrels; it exceeds the black- headed gull and common gull in size, and is a giant by comparison with its diminutive relation, the stormy petrel. It is a circumpolar species, and in winter inhabits the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the northern hemisphere. On the British coasts it is a rare straggler in winter, and its only breeding-station in the United Kingdom is at St. Kilda. It is said that formerly there were several colonies on the west coast of Scotland, but these no longer exist. In its manner of flight and general appearance the fulmar is gull-like, and may easily be mistaken for a gull. Like other petrels, it lives, when not engaged in breeding, on the open sea, and it often follows the deep-sea fishing-boats and whalers, to feed on the offal thrown out and portions of blubber floating on the water. Seebohm says that ' if a piece of meat be thrown to them, they often seize it before it sinks, but instead of diving after it, as a duck or guillemot would do, they alight on the surface feet first, and in the most comical way let themselves sink down in the water with uplifted wings.'
The fulmar lays a single white egg in a shallow hole dug in the peaty soil. Dixon has the following graphic account of the breeding-haunts and habits of the fulmar: ' In many places, although the cliff is very precipitous, it is covered with grass, sorrel, and other plants, and a loose, rich soil. It is in such spots that the fulmar breeds in the greatest numbers. I shall never forget the imposing effect of this noble bird-nursery.... When I reached the summit the scene was grand: tens of thousands of fulmars were flying silently about in all directions, but never by any chance soaring over the land; they passed backwards and forwards along the face of the cliff, and for some considerable distance out to sea, whilst the waves, a thousand feet below, were dotted thickly with floating birds. The silence of such an animated scene impressed me: not a single fulmar uttered a cry.... No bird flies more gracefully than the fulmar: it seems to float in the air without any exertion, often passing to and fro for minutes together with no perceptible movement of its wings.... It is a remarkably tame bird, fluttering along within a few feet of you, its black eye glistening sharply against its snow-white dress.... In some parts of the cliffs, where the soil is loose and turf-grown, the ground is almost white with sitting fulmars. Every available spot is a fulmar's nest; and as you explore the cliffs, large numbers of birds fly out from all directions where they had not previously been noticed.... It very rarely burrows deep enough in the ground to conceal itself whilst incubating, and in the majority of cases only makes a hole large enough to half-conceal itself, whilst in a great many instances it is content to lay its eggs under some projecting tuft, or even on the bare and exposed ledge of a cliff, in a similar place to that so often selected by the guillemot.... The nests are very slight, and in a great number of instances are dispensed with altogether.'
Of the number of fulmars, the same observer says: ' The myriads of birds were past all belief: the air was darkened with their numbers; still the cliffs were white with birds, and I calculated that not more than one in ten had risen. The fulmars filled the air like large snowflakes, and the hordes of puffins looked like a huge swarm of bees, darkening the air as far as we could see. Myriads of birds swept round the vessel or filled the air above; the face of the cliffs seemed crumbling away as the living masses swept seaward; yet, singularly enough, little noise was made beyond the humming of countless wings. The mighty peaks of these solitary ocean rocks were indistinctly seen through the surging cloud of birds, that seemed almost as if it would descend and overwhelm us.'
Two petrels remain to be noticed: the capped petrel (Œstrelata hœsitata) and Bulwer's petrel (Bulweria columbina), one straggler having been obtained of the first species, and two of the second, on the east coast of England.
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near fulmar in Knolik
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