• Sim Elliott

Fulmars - Observation 2 (14/01/2021)

Updated: May 16, 2021

Afternoon 15.40-16.30


Weather: 10 C; 10mph northerly wind; sky overcast (heavy rain in the morning)


Total number of Fulmars seen: ca. 12


Observations:


Some Fulmars perched in hollows in the cliffs or on clumps of vegetation, singularly or in pairs. At times pairs interacted, looking at each other, moving beaks around each other, at a times producing a loud chattering squawk.


Individually or in pairs or threes, some Fulmars swam over the sea for a short distance, not appearing to attempt to catch fish.


Phtotd and videos





I sat and stood for 45 minutes videoing their flight, and videoing some behaviour (squawking!). It take a very long time to get good video footage (on MP4 on a Nikon Coolpix Super-Zoom Bridge Camera). But in lockdown you have plenty of time; time to spend on mindful, prolonged and joy-enhancing observations of things you love.


Personal Psychological response


I think the restrictions in Lockdown Three are very challenging (but I understand why they need to be put on place, and I will them) lockdown three is pants. “If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live For this reason we will only publish sightings that meet with these restrictions. Sussex Ornithological Society


When I realised what the government restrictions were, I was disappointed; I'll so miss my favourite haunts: Widewater Lagoon, Adur Estuary, Cuckmere Haven, Goring Gap, Bramber Brooks. Although I completely support the lockdown.


But I have made a virtue out of a necessity. I have had to explore my local area. I have found two patches that I love. I knew the undercliff, as I cycle along it quickly and very frequently to get to my mum's (as I am her carer and she is very ill), but I never really stopped before to look at what is there. Since the beginning of lockdown three, I have spotted these from the Marina to Rottingdean: Little Egrets, a Grey Heron, Oystercatchers, Turnstones, a Rock Pipit, a Pied Wagtail, Cormorants, Mute Swans, Herring Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, and Great Black-backed Gulls and now, Fulmars; all these birds have always been along the Undercliff, at some point of the year, but I hadn't noticed them.


I knew there were Fulmars at Ovingdean, as a couple of birder friends had old me that, but I never really looked for them. Now I find them fascinating and I am mesmerised by them. Most people walking along the undercliff thinking their are Herring Gulls (I can see why as they do look quite similar), so they don't attend to them, but I think of them as my little Albatrosses! Its is very quiet when I observe the Fulmars - no one is flocking to see them, as they do for the Starling murmurations at the end of the Palace Pier; they are the big bird pull in Brighton; but Fulmars are much, much rarer than Starlings, and much more interesting IMHO! (I like the Starlings too).


The other local patch I have discovered is Hollingdean Woods; a wonderful place for woodland birds. My discoveries there can be found in my Hollingbury Woods posts on the Hollingbury Woods page.


I was feeling pretty low in the morning (Thursday 14/01/21) as I was worried about my mother, as she was having chemotherapy today, and listening to the News and hearing about the huge number of Covid-19 deaths yesterday, and the number of children admitted to hospital for malnutrition, upset me. But from the beginning of the day I knew that my permitted exercise today would be a bike ride to Ovingdean to see the Fulmars; I was looking forward to it, which kept me going to day, and it didn't disappoint.


As I rode toward the Fulmars, I started wondering, what if they've gone! But I reasoned logically: they are settling to breed and nest, they are going to be around for quite a few months! And when I arrived at their site, of course they were still there; as I approached their, site I saw Fulmars flying round the bend in the cliff; such a characteristic way of flying, no possibility that they were anything else; it filled me with joy.


I sat and stood for 45 minutes videoing their flight, and videoing some behaviour (squawking!) and taking photographs. It takes a very long time to get good video footage (on MP4 on a Nikon Coolpix Super-Zoom Bridge Camera). But in lockdown you have plenty of time; time to spend on mindful, prolonged and joy-enhancing observations of things you love.

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