At a place like Loch Leven NNR you’d think it rather unlikely that Fulmars once bred.
Fulmars are a regular breeder around the British Coastline. They are present on the cliffs for much of the year where pairs of birds have a simple nesting site of a ledge where the pair will lay a single egg in May which hatches in July. Fulmars are great scavengers. I’ve seen them eating fishing discards, dead seabirds and even dead whales. They are also known to eat Zooplankton.
Their stiff shallow wing beats make them perfect ocean wonderers using the up drafts of air to their advantage.
In 1966 Fulmars were found nesting on Benarty Crags and breeding was proven in 1972. Up to 8 birds frequented the crags in the 1980s but numbers dropped and occasional birds were noted in the 1990s with the last record from up there in 2005. My only sighting of Fulmar was in September 2004 when a single bird was pecking Macrophytes around the Kirkgate.
During 2018 and 19 all seabirds in the UK are being counted. I thought I’d have a close look to see if any birds remained up on the crags.
Kirkcaldy is our nearest sea to Loch Leven. Just about 9 miles from the crags. I wonder which route they took. I’d be flabbergasted to see a Fulmar flying across a field of corn.
Many places for a Fulmar to breed above Loch Leven
Benarty Hill known as the sleeping giant where Ravens and Perigrine falcons patrol
Other nesters include Starlings, Pied Wagtails, Jackdaws and Meadow Pipits. The Red Grouse still call from the heather above ‘Go Bak Go Bak Go Bak.’. I received quizzical looks from the Roe Deer below before they dashed away down the hill.
Wonderful views of St Serfs Island and the RSPB Wetlands can be gained from Benarty
Is it a surprise that Fulmars once chose to make the crags their home? Actually no. There are a few documented inland Fulmar colonies across Scotland. It’s actually more regular in Iceland. On a trip a few years ago I saw a few in the interior of the country where there were crags and ledges.
These wonderful seabirds are not under the same threats as others species like Puffin and Kittiwake of but the loss of this albeit tiny colony is a little sad. Maybe they’ll return one day?
It is now much easier to access the hills above the RSPB. All made more possible from the path at RSPB centre. See here for details and a map of the paths.