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A quite common, although not numerous, sea bird along the Dorset coast and regularly breeds on the cliffs.


Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Fulmar: a foul mere

Post date: Thursday, 16 April, 2015 - 00:00

If you stand on the cliffs at Durlston or Portland or, indeed, anywhere along the Dorset sea cliffs in spring or summer you will often see a fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) circling on the breeze, stiff wings outstretched, rarely having to beat them. The fulmar is a master glider; it is a member of the albatross family and displays many of the family characteristics. Its main claim to fame, however, is its inclination to eject a foul, fishy smelling oily substance at anyone who annoys it. This 'foul mere' is where it gets its name. 

Often seen in the company of gulls, it stands out amongst them because of the long, thin, gliding wings. It is quite common, although not numerous, along the Dorset coast and regularly breeds here.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Fulmar
Scientific Name Fulmarus glacialis
Status Local
Interest Level
Species Family Auks, Petrels, Shearwaters and Gannets
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Open sea
  • Rocky cliffs and shores
Look for Gull-like birds with stiff, outstretched wings gliding near cliffs
Additional Identification Notes
  • Although similar to gulls it is a member of the petrel family and is properly known as the fulmar petrel
  • Noted for their skillful gliding flight using stiffly held outstretched wings
  • Breed on the cliffs of Dorset and are most numerous in summer but can be seen all year round   
Similar Species