There’s nuffin like a puffin

A pair of puffins outside their burrow on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

A pair of puffins outside their burrow on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire. (Photo credit Joanne Goldby)

2014 was a dreadful year for Puffins in Pembrokeshire. Research by Dr Matt Wood at the University of Gloucestershire* is revealing the harsh consequences of last winter’s’s storms for thousands of puffins on Skomer Island.

Around 50,000 dead seabirds, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills, were washed ashore in a severely emaciated state,  starved as storm after storm prevented them from catching enough fish to eat. With unknown numbers dying out at sea, this was the biggest seabird wreck recorded in Europe. By the end of 2014’s breeding season, the numbers of adult puffins was down by 25% on the previous year: a quarter of the puffins on Skomer and Skokholm islands may have died, around 5,000 birds.

Field assistant Ros Green found that Skomer puffins bred unusually late, their chicks hatching two weeks later than usual and being fed at only a third of the rate in 2013. As a result, breeding success dropped markedly by 25%, with only just over half of puffin pairs raising a chick.

The puffin colony needs to recuperate in 2015. Here’s hoping for fewer catastrophic weather events in the year to come.

*Reported by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.

Finally, on a related topic, here are some of my favourite Puffins. Do you remember yours?

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About bookvolunteer

I'm passionate about books, about Oxfam and about making the world a better place. When I'm not filling the shelves in Oxfam Wilmslow, I might be found reading the books I've bought in the beautiful surroundings of North Pembrokeshire.
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2 Responses to There’s nuffin like a puffin

  1. calmgrove says:

    The C S Lewis I first read as a Puffin but the Rider Haggard as a hardback (a Blackie book? Collins? Can’t remember). I’d read about the storms affecting puffin numbers before — so sad — but wonder if rats being eliminated from Cardigan Island may mean their return in the not so distant future?

  2. I read the other Rider Haggard books in red hardback editions – Hodder and Stoughton I think, with an embossed pattern on the front cover and poor quality paper that made them much too light for all the excitement they contained.

    As for Puffins on Cardigan Island – that would be nice but I don’t suppose there’s enough pressure on space in their present colonies to encourage them to move.

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