Fulmars find their way back

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Latest update 21.02.2013 22:24

Bird watching season is now open with the return of fulmars to the Giant’s Causeway.

'Fulmars have just come back to the Giant’s Causeway to lay claim to their nest spots,' says Cliff. 'The best spots are usually flat rocks on a ledge in the middle of a cliff face – somewhere that foxes or small animals can’t reach.'

The birds will roost and feed here before starting to lay their eggs in May. 'They feed on surface species like squid and jellyfish,' says Cliff. 'Or even dead things that float on the surface of the sea.'

The birds lay will start to lay their eggs in May. They only lay one egg which will not hatch until late summer. 'The single chick doesn’t leave the nest for another six weeks so the parents must defend their nests against predators like jackdaws and ravens,' says Cliff. 'They do this by spitting out their stomach oil which - given their diet - smells foul!'

Despite their aggressive protection of their nests from threats, fulmars are under threat from humans. 'Fulmars are known to eat almost anything that’s found at the surface of the water - including rubbish.' says Cliff. 'Plenty of plastic washes up on the shore here so we worry about the health of our fulmars.'

Fulmars are white with grey wings. They are quite small but have a wingspan of around one metre. Look out for them using their long wings to glide on the updraft of air that occurs along cliffs, and watch them dipping and gliding above the wave-tops. The best fulmar-watching spots at the Giant’s Causeway are around Port Coon, the amphitheatre and Port na Spaniagh.