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IT’S PUFFLING TIME!

Photo by Greg Macvean, Isle of May / Scottish Seabird Centre boat trip

Photo by Greg Macvean, Isle of May / Scottish Seabird Centre boat trip

SCOTTISH SEABIRD CENTRE URGES PEOPLE TO KEEP THEIR EYES PEELED FOR YOUNG PUFFINS

The Scottish Seabird Centre, the independent visitor attraction, conservation and education charity, is appealing to East Lothian residents to be alert for young puffins – known as pufflings – which have come ashore and may be hiding under cars or in gardens.

Over the next few weeks, puffins will leave their burrows on the islands of Craigleith, Fidra and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve, and head out to sea until they return to breed next spring.

However, after leaving their burrows on the island of Craigleith, just offshore from North Berwick, some pufflings may become disorientated by lights from the mainland; their first ever flight may see them flying into coastal towns and seeking somewhere dark to hide – they often settle underneath cars.

There are around 5,500 apparently occupied puffin burrows on Craigleith and around 55,000 around the Firth of Forth. With two adults and one puffling for each successful burrow nest, this gives an indication of the huge numbers of puffins currently in the area.

Staff at the Seabird Centre, along with North Berwick resident Liz Martin, have already rescued their first puffin and it won’t be long before puffling rescues follow.

Marion Kerr, Gift Shop Manager, said: “Liz Martin came into the Seabird Centre and told us that there was a puffin struggling on the beach. She had organised a family to stand guard as there were lots of kids and dogs around.

“I grabbed our puffin rescue box and Claudia (from our Discovery Centre team) and I went straight out to the beach. The puffin was sitting by the water’s edge and you could tell the wee thing was very tired. We managed to pick him up and pop him in the box. We are delighted to say that after a little rest and some food we were able release him back into the wild.”

The Scottish Seabird Centre’s Chief Executive, Tom Brock OBE, has appealed for everyone to be vigilant and to call the Scottish Seabird Centre on 01620 890202 or the SSPCA on 03000 999 999 if they find a puffling.

Tom Brock said: “This is a key time of year for our puffins and pufflings as they head out to sea after the breeding season. Pufflings look very different from the adults: they are shades of grey, their beaks are much smaller and they don’t have the characteristic bright beak colours that the adults have in summer.

“We are appealing to everyone to please keep an eye out under cars and in their gardens over the next few weeks – they could save a puffling’s life.”

“Last year the Seabird Centre rescued several pufflings in North Berwick and successfully released them back into the wild from our trip boats. Puffins appear to have had a good breeding season locally so our Puffling Rescue Service may be busier than ever over the next few weeks.”

The Scottish Seabird Centre leads a number of campaigns focussing on the conservation of seabirds and the marine environment including SOS Puffin, a campaign to remove a giant invasive plant called tree mallow. This plant can prevent puffins from nesting and rearing their pufflings on the islands of Fidra and Craigleith. Around 1,000 volunteers have helped with this project.

For more information on the Scottish Seabird Centre visit www.seabird.org

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