Many of the birds that breed on the Mull of Galloway spend a large part of their lives out on the open sea, only coming to land to breed. One such bird is the kittiwake. Kittiwake can still be seen in good numbers on the cliffs around the reserve. Many of the juveniles are around five weeks old and can be seen flapping their wings enthusiastically; building up their flight muscles in preparation for their first ventures in to the air. After fledging they will still be reliant on their parents for food for several weeks more until they are fully able to fend for themselves.
Kittiwake - Photo credit: Rob Conn
Although some kittiwakes remain around the British Isles or head south-west out in to the Atlantic, some adults and many juveniles will disperse as far as the North American coast. Juvenile kittiwakes may remain in the western Atlantic for several years before returning to their natal colonies to breed as adults.
Guillemots will tend to move north for the winter as they follow food sources. Adult males and juvenile guillemots will stay together through the autumn and into the winter before splitting up to form separate flocks.
Razorbills - Photo Credit: Rob Conn
Male razorbills will moult after leaving the cliffs in July and while both are flightless, males and juveniles will travel out to sea. Adults may return to their colonies in March but many of our juveniles will travel down to the Mediterranean and not return to their breeding colonies for 2 or 3 years.
Razorbills - Photo credit: Rob Conn
Gannets may stay around the UK throughout the year but many young birds that leave their colonies in August/September and some adults may travel to the waters around Senegal on the north-west coast of Africa, almost 3,000 miles away.
Fulmar rarely travel far from their colonies, with chicks fledging in September and some adults back on the cliffs by October. By January most adults are back on their breeding ledges.
Throughout August you can pop into the RSPB Visitor Centre to speak to staff or volunteers to find out where best to view young fulmar on their nests!
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