Posted by George Morrison

Fulmar – Wind Junkie                Word on the Week          5th August 2023.

There is one bird for whom the yellow wind warning of the Met Office spells delight and that is the Fulmar.   A bird of sea and sky and cliff ledge nesting places where the one large white egg is incubated by both adults in turn.

In days long ago when wild bird egg collecting was not banned the Fulmar’s egg was coveted.   It required considerable rock climbing skills and an ability to withstand the evil smelling green fish oil the bird could eject at any would-be assailant.   Mother never could get the smell out of my clothes!

A more enjoyable pastime was to lie on the clifftop on a breezy day where the wind whipped the sea into ‘white horses’ and admire the Fulmars hovering a few feet away.   The bird would then inscribe a couple of circles and arrive back at the same spot without ever flapping a wing!

This performance continued for as long as you were prepared to remain.   It demonstrated effortless travel which enabled the bird to travel 1,500 miles to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to stock up on the dense planktonic life there.   It is an area the size of France which is currently being considered for conservation.

According to the Fulmars GPS this bird returned to Orkney via Galway a round journey of 3,900 miles in 2 weeks!    The winds were strong and the wing beats were few!   Not all go on such lengthy journeys between their turn at egg sitting but if the wind is right they seem to memorise routes to where food is to be found and distance is no problem!

After approximately six weeks the egg hatches and the birds take turns at gathering food for the chick.  The baby accesses the food by putting his beak into the adult’s mouth so that the parent bird vomits the oily, smelly fish oil to where it was intended, the chicks stomach and not my jersey!

It is part of the wonders of God’s creation that He has produced a bird which almost has the secret of perpetual motion.   The Fulmars mastery in the air, using its feet to steer and the upward thrust of the wind in the valleys created by roller waves enables flight with minimum of effort.

The Lord gives the promise of strength renewed to those who hope in him.  

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”           (Isaiah 40 verses 29 to 31)

Reader – may you get your wings!