|The boys are back in clown! (Andy Denton)|
|Getting arty! Puffins and Bamburgh Castle (Andy Denton)|
|Phew! Puffins back on their feet (Andy Denton)|
Friday 5th April comments: They’re back, and we’re all breathing a big sigh of relief! After the doom and gloom stories surrounding our most charismatic breeding bird, the Puffins have returned!
Having been seen in small numbers around the islands in the last few days, this morning finally saw the first large scale invasion. Several thousand colourful clowns rained down upon the islands for the first time this year. After a long, tough winter, they got down to business quickly, inspecting burrows and beginning their spring cleaning. The weather wasn’t great today, meaning the islands weren’t open for business; a great shame as the first time we had thousands of Puffins we had nobody to share them with! However, to our ‘Tommy Noddies’ (a local name for Puffins) it must have felt like a gentle breeze!
Not many people realise what happens to our Puffins when they leave the Farnes, so let’s put things into context! They generally head north after leaving the islands and head for open ocean. They will not touch land at all for around eight months, before slowly making their way back to the Farnes to breed in the summer. This all sounds straight forward but imagine having to feed and sleep on the vast expanse of the sea, with no shelter from the wind and rain, bobbing on the surface in huge swell and massive storms. Life as a seabird isn’t easy!
So, it’s the year of the Puffin, with our first census in five years taking place this year. The team will be checking and inspecting around 40,000 burrows, no mean feat! The count in 2008 stood at 36,835 pairs and it’s really anyone’s guess what the count will be this year! A win on the Grand National would be a better bet! Any guesses anyone?
In the meantime, it’s great to have our Puffins back and let’s keep our fingers crossed for a successful breeding season!