Puffin wreck in Scotland. Bad weather affects northern UK’s puffins

Atlantic puffin. Photo by Paul MarshallPress release from Alderney Wildlife Trust

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology has been receiving reports of an Atlantic puffin wreck (multiple unusual deaths) on the east coast of Scotland and the north-east of England.

It appears that, while the exact causes of these deaths are currently unknown, the birds have died of starvation, unable to feed in the recent bad weather and strong easterly winds. This incident is likely to be the biggest ‘wreck’ since 1947 and research will be done this summer to see how it affects the northern colonies of puffins. Numbers of guillemots and razorbills have also been picked up after, presumably, suffering the same fate. The RSPB have added that as we are fast approaching the start of the seabird breeding season, where tens of thousands of seabirds return to their colonies to raise their young, the recent events could have an impact on the success of this year’s puffin breeding season. Puffins are already suffering population declines.

No reports of a puffin wreck have occurred in the lower regions of the species range, and the Channel Islands have not received as much bad weather as the north of the UK.

Although the puffins arrived back on Burhou, Alderney, later this year than last, a good number were recorded by the remote camera (see Living Islands Live). It is unlikely that the wreck will affect Burhou, but in the event that anyone does find any dead puffins washing onto shorelines in the Channel Islands, particularly Alderney, please report them immediately to ecologist@alderneywildlife.org. Thank you.

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