Puffins - News from the Island Puffin
I've adored puffins, ever since I watched them present the children's birthday cards on Channel TV in the Channel Islands, where Puffin has been helping kids celebrate their birthdays for years.
The British Isles holds 10% of the worlds puffins, while Iceland and Norway hold the largest breeding populations. The puffin is on the Amber list of UK Birds of Conservation Concern.
Threats to puffins
The puffin hasn't had an easy time. They disappeared way back in the 1890s, as rats arriving on ships devoured them as prey. Puffins are vulnerable to changes in the environment, becuase its breeding population focuses on several small sites. And it is threatened by the distribution and numberes of small fish, while ground predators such as the rat and cat in breeding colonies and pullution threaten this lovely bird. Some 85% of all French puffins were killed in the oil leaked from the Torrey Canyon in 1967 killed 85% of the French puffins. And the puffin isn't helped by its low reproductive rate, so it can take years to recover from incidents such as this.
Efforts to help the puffin
The RSPB says the only realistic conservation measures are sustainable exploitation of the seas, a reduction in incidence of marine pollution, and preventing ground predators reaching nesting colonies. But they are also trying another methoc, used successfully elsewhere, which is to hope that some 200 look-alike puffins placed around Ramsay Island in the beautiful area of Pembrokeshire may encourage puffins looking for a mate to land. One idea was to put some 200 look-alike puffin decoys around Ramsey Island to encourage puffins in the mood for some romance back. The method has been successful elsewhere, which gives the project some hope. The birds may also be drawn to the sites where they were born - a bit like an islander returning to his or her home island.
Thus far, the RSPB has is noticing more puffins around the island each year, and it knows it needs to be patient, especially given that this method of encouraging puffins to settle has been successful elsewhere.
How to help puffins
Alderney Wildlife Trust and its volunteers have set up a webcam so that everyone can see the puffins on Burhou where one of the last breeding colonies is located. The project has been supported by Airtel-Vodafone and their expertise, which has enabled the web cam to operate efficiently. It's powered by the sun & wind and can be remotely controlled. Watch the Alderney Widllife Trust website for updates!