A mass Exodus of seabirds from Pembrokeshire


It’s the middle of July and lots of us have been enjoying seeing the many seabirds that come in to make their homes and have their young on the towering sea cliffs and offshore islands of Pembrokeshire. Razorbills, Guillemots, Puffins and Fulmars, having raised their young, are all about to leave us until next spring. This mass exodus is beginning to happen with the Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins all starting to gather in groups on the water, ready to leave.

The Razorbill and Guillemot chicks that were born on high cliff ledges, with no nest for protection, will be encouraged (nudged?) by fathers to take the leap of faith and jump off the edge to glide down to the water. Unable yet to fly, dad will continue to nudge them to help them stay in the air and avoid any dangers until they safely land on the water. Once there they are able to swim and dive but it will be another few weeks before they can fly. With a life at sea ahead of them, except for around 13 weeks each year when they have young of their own, these skills are far more useful to them.

Young Puffins, cousins to the Razorbills and Guillemots and born in burrows on Skomer Island and South Bishop, will also have to take a similar leap of faith in order to join their families rafted in groups on the surface of the sea. As more and more gather together it is almost like one day there are still lots around and the next only one or two stragglers remain.

The Fulmars will remain for another few weeks, through August and into September. Fulmar chicks take at least a hundred days from being laid as an egg to fledging. As a member of the Albatross family it maybe five years before they return to land as mature adults ready to have young of their own.

Once these sea birds leave we will still have the Oystercatchers, the Curlews, the rock Pipits, the sandpipers, the Peregrine Falcons, the Kestrels, the Choughs, the Buzzards and the many more resident bird populations of Pembrokeshire for company.

And of course it won’t be long until the seals are here.