Puffin census - July 2013 update
After three months of counting, measuring, and putting plasters on fingers, the puffin census 2013 is complete. An 8 per cent increase on 2008 is the big news, meaning that there are 39,962 pairs nesting on the Farnes, as opposed to 36,835 five years ago. Also the lateness of the breeding season means that the birds are here later into the summer, good news for visitors.
So far, so good
Our team of National Trust rangers have been surveying the entire Puffin population across nine islands. With several colony counts complete we are now well acquainted with these tough little seabirds. While a few rangers had one or two bitten fingers we are glad to report that no Puffins were harmed in the counting.
As well as counting we also carry out vital scientific work including ringing and the taking of biometrics of Puffins. This allows us to see the state of the birds during the breeding season and is part of a longer running study.
Which way to the toilets?
It's not as simple as you may think, surveying Puffins. Burrows can go down 4 or 5ft and some build two chambers; one for a single egg and another for a toilet. It's often a case of lose - lose for the rangers; either get bitten or put your hand into the bird's toilet!
A hole lot of puffins
There are about 90,000 puffin burrows on the Farne Islands and over the course of the census, each one will have a ranger put their arm down there and feel for beaks. If we can feel one, we know that a breeding pair is occupying the burrow.
For the first time, we have been able to observe Puffins in their underground burrows. This is thanks to Puffin Cam, newly installed this season. Please click on the video below to learn more; already we have seen a egg being laid, and recently the chick hatching.
Puffin-cam: our first chick
For the first time ever we've installed cameras in puffin burrows at the Farne Islands. These cameras will record highlights throughout the breeding season, charting the ups and downs of these plucky little birds. This latest video shows a newly hatched chick emerging from its egg.