Familiar faces at the coastal places

By Cristina Sellarés 

If you head to the north-west of the Island today, and you stop by Grève de Lecq, you might want to pop in to Colleens Cafe, where a familiar face is waiting to greet you. Not a human face mind you, but that of one of our local puffins in fact.

The puffin in question is one of Jersey’s breeding birds, a population of only four pairs, and its photo, featured in a new information board, was taken by a local photographer just around the corner from the cafe. The board, produced by Birds On The Edge as a part of our seabird conservation  campaign, is really the brainchild of puffin enthusiast and owner of Colleens Cafe, Emma Machon. When we heard that Emma was thinking of having a board about puffins at the cafe, we approached her to offer our input, which she graciously accepted (to our delight!).

The board provides global and local insights about puffins and other seabirds breeding in the area, with information on their ecology, populations and present threats, as well as measures to stop their declines (you can look at the sign here). We have used photos taken locally in most cases, so you’re looking at our actual birds from Jersey, and in the settings and behaviours we are most likely to observe: flying, standing on the rocks or bobbing on the water. In Jersey we are not likely to see puffins perched on the rocks or walking about on the slopes and burrows, like we might in the large colonies of the north. The slopes in Jersey are too accessible to potential predators, such as rats and ferrets, so our puffins only breed in rock crevices on the cliffs, below the slopes.

On the board you will also find a small map of the Seabird Protection Zone, which is the area to avoid between March and July in order to keep puffins and other endangered birds safe from disturbance; and the Seabird Trail (coming soon!), which is the route to follow in order to observe the puffins in a safe and unobtrusive way.

Map showing Seabird Protection Zone (red) and Seabird Trail (green line)

At the other end of the trail you will find another copy of the board, just outside Plémont Cafe. As it happened, only a few weeks ago we were approached by the cafe’s owner Paul McDermott , who was wondering if we had any nice puffin pictures or posters that he could put up, and as you can guess, now there are two boards, one at either end of the forthcoming Seabird Trail.

So here’s a little plan for you: pick a sunny day, grab your binoculars and head to Plémont. Have a nice breakfast at the cafe, whilst admiring the beach from the bar. Take a quick look at the seabird board (it’s behind you…!). Once you’ve brushed up on identifying puffins and other birds, find your way up to the top car park and start on the Seabird Trail, following the public footpath to Grève. Keep your eyes on the sea below for puffins, razorbills, gulls and fulmars, and see how many you can identify of each. Once you arrive at Grève de Lecq, you deserve a good lunch, so treat yourself at Colleens, where you can check on their seabird board how many birds you got right.  After enjoying the food and the views, and maybe even the beach too, make your way back to Plémont, noticing the other side of the cliffs and the changing views, and don’t forget to keep scanning the water with your binoculars, as seals or dolphins are a common sight in this area too.

Now that you’ve made it back to Plémont, having learnt about our seabirds and tested your skills, you deserve an ice cream, slice of cake or a cool drink.  What better way to celebrate some time well spent with our beautiful seabirds.

Thanks go to: Emma from Colleens Café for her initial idea, and for allowing the Birds On The Edge takeover of the seabird board; Paul from Plémont Cafe for jumping on the board bandwagon; graphic artists at Durrell (Will and Rich) for their inspired design; and the photographers Romano da Costa and Mick Dryden for letting us use their beautiful photos.

Have a sneaky look at the full sign here