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Puffling rescues at the Scottish Seabird Centre

Centre appeals for public to keep their eyes peeled for other Mr Whippies!
 Puffling rescue 2016 %28c%29 Alex Turnbull
Conservation and education charity, the Scottish Seabird Centre, is urging East Lothian residents to keep an eye out for young puffins, as puffling season is now in full swing. 
 
The Seabird Centre was involved with its first rescue of the season on 28 July at 17:30 when a puffling was found under an ice cream van. Thanks to Seabird Member, Mike Thornton, the puffling was safely caught and taken into the Centre, where Discovery Centre Manager, Alexander Turnbull, was able to assist.
 
Mike Thornton, North Berwick resident, said: “I have some experience of catching puffins after working on the Farne Islands, where they would often get trapped in the walled garden and would occasionally come into the warden’s house! I had the opportunity to name the puffling and have chosen the name ‘Mr Whippy’ as he was found under the ice cream van!”
 
Alexander Turnbull, Discovery Centre Manager, said: “The puffling itself was fine though a little confused and scared. I waited until sunset before releasing it by the old pier just as high tide was spilling over onto the surface. It flew out of my hands and gently landed on the water a metre away from the pier, before diving a few times. It then started to paddle itself out towards the Lamb, looking quite happy and calm.”
 
Puffins and their pufflings are now leaving their burrows on the islands of Craigleith, Fidra and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve, and heading out to sea. The adults will not come ashore again until they return to breed next spring.
 
However, after leaving their burrows on the island of Craigleith, just offshore from North Berwick, some pufflings become disorientated by lights from the mainland. Their first ever flight may see them flying into town and seeking somewhere dark to hide from predators often underneath cars and under plants in gardens.
 
This year to help raise awareness of this, the North Berwick Wildlife Watch have created a video with award-winning photographer Barrie Williams. The video is a step-by-step guide about what do to if someone sees a puffling and wishes to help with its rescue. The video can be seen on the Centre’s website, YouTube channel and also in the Centre. It features Tammie Junior, a knitted puffling created by Seabird supporter, Hilary Smith. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKZCQJ4lz2k
 
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 Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999 if they find a puffling.
 
Tom Brock said: “Pufflings look completely different from their adult counterparts, so often people don’t realise what they can see is a puffling! They are shades of grey, white and black; their smaller beaks don’t have the characteristic bright colours that the adults have in summer.
 
“It is a crucial time in the puffin season and we want to ensure as many as possible of these wonderful seabirds make it out to sea. We are appealing to people to please contact us if they do spot a puffling – and also to watch the fantastic video created by Barrie and North Berwick Wildlife Watch, so they know the best way to deal with these amazing seabirds.”
 
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.
 
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 was preventing puffins from nesting and rearing their pufflings on the nearby islands of Fidra and Craigleith, causing a major population decline. Around 1,000 volunteers have helped with this project and, thanks to their hard work, local puffin numbers are recovering and biodiversity is increasing.
 
ENDS
 
For further press information:
Laura Adamson
Marketing Manager
01620 890202
marketing@seabird.org

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