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Read by Dave and Charley

ECOLOGIST'S UPDATE

It has been quite a while since we have had an update on the puffins on Burhou, so today's update will be all about these charismatic little birds and getting you caught up with what they have been doing over the past few weeks.

At this time of year the majority of our time on Burhou is spent watching the puffins. We do this from vantage points, under camouflage covers, using the white marker posts you can see on the cameras to identify which burrows the puffins are entering.

Aurelie getting ready for some puffin watching

Aurelie getting ready for some puffin watching

You can see what sort of view we get of the puffins from our vantage points by watching our live cameras. But for a clearer idea of what we can see here is a video of the colony rafting on the water from our ecologists position on Burhou.

Ecologist's view on Burhou

Activity has been increasing since late May and we have been seeing some of the characteristic behaviours of puffins early in their breeding season. Unfortunately due to the storms back in February causing a seabird wreck that killed over 46,000 seabirds some of our surviving puffins are still up to a month behind in their usual breeding schedule. But the good news is the ones that are here appear healthy; with up to 190 individuals seen in the water at one time and early breeding season behaviour, such as billing, collecting nesting material, digging and fighting all being recorded on our cameras.

Billing and Preening

Collecting Nesting

Digging

Billing is a courtship ritual for attracting mates and reaffirming pair bonds, whilst preening keeps their feathers in prime condition for diving and flying. The puffins collect nesting material to line their burrows and keep the eggs warm, they usually use vegetation and feathers. The burrows themselves are cleaned out by the puffins using their sharp claws and beaks to remove the soil.

Despite many of the puffins being a month late we are still hoping for a good season for our puffins so keep watching the cameras for signs of the season progressing. In fact, on the 5th June (at 6.30 in the morning!) I was conducting a watch of the puffins and saw the first one to bring fish back to its burrow! It then brought in some more fish an hour later, a clear sign it has a newly hatched chick to look after; this is actually a puffin that is on time with breeding this year.

Thanks to our live cameras we are now also seeing fish being brought back to the burrows more regularly. Keep an eye out for all of types of behaviour, particularly fish carrying, on the live cameras.

Carrying Fish

Of course we can just enjoy watching the puffins no matter what they are doing as they can be quite funny to watch just moving around the land.

Clumsy Puffins