7 MAY 2018
The avian magicians spend months at sea, never touching land and taking only a moment’s rest now and then.
Around now, on the low cliffs between St Andrews Castle and the town harbour, a colony of fulmars settles in for the breeding season, just two minutes’ walk from my office. It is always a lift to the spirits when these birds arrive and begin sweeping clean the precarious, narrow rock ledges where the eggs will be laid.
As the days lengthen and the wind off the firth goes from chilly to cool, I like to stand on the path above the rock face and watch as they glide back and forth, my pleasure intensified by the knowledge that, once the chicks are grown enough to leave, I will not see them again till next spring. I know this from experience, having lived through 20 years of their coming and going: gradually, the colony builds to its peak numbers, then, a little less gradually, the birds glide away, to spend the rest of the year at sea, far from this narrow peninsula.