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The puffins are back at the Scottish Seabird Centre


Puffin season has begun at the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick. Visitors to the 5-star Discovery Centre have the opportunity to control the interactive island cameras to zoom in on the live puffin action. It’s also possible to see these amazing endangered birds with a range of Seabird Centre boat trips that take in the local islands.

The Isle of May is the largest puffin colony on the east coast of Britain, home to over 90,000 puffins from April to early August. The islands of Craigleith and Fidra feature as part of the Seabird Centre’s SOS Puffin Project, which has been running for 11 years and has seen over 1,100 volunteers getting involved to help puffins gain access to their burrows by cutting down an invasive alien plant called tree mallow. Puffin numbers had crashed significantly, but thanks to all the hard work of the Centre volunteers, the local population is recovering.

Puffins are now on the Red List of Threatened Species. Like many seabirds they are at significant risk from a wide range of threats including climate change, lack of food, pollution and marine litter.

Alex Turnbull, Discovery Centre Manager, said: “With the Firth of Forth being home to tens of thousands of puffins between April and early August and with the Isle of May being the largest puffin colony on the east coast of Britain, North Berwick is the ideal location for puffin spotting and to appreciate and learn about these wonderful birds.

“Visitors of all ages love zooming in on the puffins as they control our interactive live cameras. And to see them when out on our Seabird Catamaran Cruise, Three Islands Seabird Seafari or Isle of May Landing is really quite special.

Admission to the Discovery Centre: £8.95 per adult, £4.95 per child, £25 per family. Open every day, except Christmas Day. Double boat trip and Discovery Centre tickets are also available.

Puffin facts

    • Fratercula arctica (Atlantic puffin)
    • Often called the clown of the sea, the puffin is an unmistakable seabird with its black back and white underparts, distinctive black head with large pale cheeks and brightly-coloured bill. Its comical appearance is heightened by its red and black eye markings and bright orange legs.
    • Breeding: They prefer offshore islands and high sea cliffs, and nest in burrows, under boulders or in cracks in cliffs where predators cannot easily reach them: these are called puffinries. They lay one egg and their young are called pufflings. After hatching the young puffin remains underground concealed in the nest, until the night comes for it to head for the open sea, not to return until it is ready to breed, usually some five years later.
    • Winter: Spent at sea.
    • Eat: Fish, especially sandeels.
    • Sound: A growling laugh.
    • Spot them: Adults arrive back at the breeding colony in March and April and leave again in mid-August. You’ll see them on the Isle of May, Fidra and Craigleith cameras at the Scottish Seabird Centre.
Puffin facts
Eggs One
Incubation 36-45 days
Fledging 34-60 days
Maximum lifespan 29 years
Length 26-29cm
Wingspan 47-63cm
Weight 320-480g
Population in the Firth of Forth 90,000


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