I was down at Rottingdean fairly early this morning, on an errand but while I was there I headed down to the cliffs to check out the local fulmars. This is a good time of year to watch them as they prepare for breeding. There were plenty of them about, flying out over the sea and then doing their typical skimming along the cliffs trying to find a foothold.
The usual pattern when they try to land is to fly up to the cliff face, turn away, fly a circuit and then try again. They have very weak legs and need to get their landing exactly right. It’s not always easy. I watched several fulmars play this game. Usually they are aiming at a nesting site but just occasionally they pick the wrong spot. As this one did. Here it is making touchdown on the cliff face.
Usually at that point it would either abort the landing, or settle. On this occasion it had chosen the wrong hole. This particular cavity in the cliff was already taken… by a jackdaw; and it was not happy about the uninvited guest. Jackdaws can be very aggressive, even with each other, as the fulmar was about to discover. This is what happened next.
After they separated the fulmar headed out to sea and the jackdaw returned to its roost.
As well as the fulmars and jackdaws, the cliffs are home to pipits, starlings and pigeons and so minor confrontations are common on the cliffs. Usually though, it’s a case of which bird can shout the loudest and longest. Fulmars invariably win that kind of contest!
Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS lens.