With puffling season in full swing, the Scottish Seabird Centre is urging East Lothian residents to keep an eye out for young puffins.
The Scottish Seabird Centre was involved with its first rescue of the season on 28 July when a puffling was found under an ice cream van. Thanks to Seabird Member and North Berwick resident, Mike Thornton, the puffling was safely caught and taken into the Centre.
‘Found under the ice cream van’
“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,” said Mike Thornton. “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 Turbull, Discovery Centre Manager at the Scottish Seabird Centre, assisted Mike with the puffling rescue. “The puffling itself was fine, though a little confused and scared,” said Alex. “I waited until sunset before releasing it by the old pier just as high tide was spilling over onto the surface.
“Mr Whippy flew out of my hands and gently landed on the water a metre away from the pier, before diving a few times. He then started to paddle itself out towards the Lamb, looking happy and calm.”
Pufflings can be disorientated by lights from the mainland
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 but, after leaving their burrows on the island of Craigleith, some pufflings can be disorientated by lights from the mainland.
As a result, their first ever flight may see them flying into an East Lothian town and seeking somewhere dark to hide from predators, often underneath cars and under plants in gardens.
To help raise awareness of the plight of lost pufflings, North Berwick Wildlife Watch have created a video with award-winning photographer Barrie Williams and featuring Tammie Junior, a knitted puffling created by Seabird supporter, Hilary Smith.
‘They are shades of grey, white and black’
“Pufflings look completely different from their adult counterparts, so often people don’t realise what they can see is a puffling,” said Tom Brock OBE, Scottish Seabird Centre’s Chief Executive. “They are shades of grey, white and black and their smaller beaks don’t have the characteristic bright colours that the adults have in summer.
“We want to ensure as many as possible of these wonderful seabirds make it out to sea so we are appealing to people to 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.”
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