Meet the ranger on puffin patrol
Gwen Potter is a countryside manager looking after the Northumberland Coast and all of its inhabitants.
That includes taking care of the puffins that nest on the Farne Islands between April and July every year. We met up with her to find out a bit more about what this entails.
What’s so special about puffins, Gwen?
They are one of the UK’s most recognisable birds and they are beautiful and funny. They usually pair up for life. I love to watch them rub their bills together like a kiss.
Why do they nest on the Farnes?
Puffins need four things to breed: soft soil to burrow in to lay their egg; somewhere far from most predators; fairly cold temperatures; and seas full of fish. The Farnes have all these.
How many chicks do they have?
Each pair raises only one chick, so they work hard to care for it. They fly miles out to sea and bring fish back for it.
What are baby puffins like?
The chicks in the burrows are known as pufflings. They are fluffy because they have lots of feathers to keep them warm.
Why do you count them?
Puffin numbers are falling across the UK, so we count ours every five years to understand if the work we’re doing to help them breed successfully is making a difference.
This article first appeared in the summer 2018 issue of our magazine.