Public asked to be on the lookout for stranded pufflings

People living next to the sea have been asked to be on the look out for young pufflings.

While this might sound like the latest addition to the Pokemon craze, it actually refers to baby puffins who often end up in the most unusual places.

To prove the point, conservation and education charity the Scottish Seabird Centre has already had to rescue one puffling which was found under an ice cream van in North Berwick.

Mike Thornton, who found the young bird, said: “I have some experience of catching puffins after working on the Farne Islands, where they would often get trapped in the walled garden and would occasionally come into the warden’s house!

It is a crucial time in the puffin season and we want to ensure as many as possible of these wonderful seabirds make it out to sea

“I had the opportunity to name the puffling and have chosen the name Mr Whippy as he was found under the ice cream van!”

Alexander Turnbull, seabird centre manager, said: “The puffling itself was fine though a little confused and scared. I waited until sunset before releasing it by the old pier just as high tide was spilling over onto the surface.

“It flew out of my hands and gently landed on the water a metre away from the pier, before diving a few times. It then started to paddle itself out, looking quite happy and calm.”

Puffins and their pufflings are now leaving their burrows on the islands of Craigleith, Fidra and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve, and heading out to sea. The adults will not come ashore again until they return to breed next spring.

However, after leaving their burrows on the island of Craigleith, just offshore from North Berwick, some pufflings become disorientated by lights from the mainland. Their first ever flight may see them flying into town and seeking somewhere dark to hide from predators often underneath cars and under plants in gardens.

This year to help raise awareness of this, the North Berwick Wildlife Watch has created a video with award-winning photographer Barrie Williams.

The video (see below) is a step-by-step guide about what do to if someone sees a puffling and wishes to help with its rescue.

It features Tammie Junior, a knitted puffling created by Seabird supporter, Hilary Smith.

The Scottish Seabird Centre’s chief executive, Tom Brock OBE has appealed for everyone to be vigilant and to call the centre on 01620 890202 if they are in the vicinity or the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999 if they find a puffling.

He said: “Pufflings look completely different from their adult counterparts, so often people don’t realise what they can see is a puffling! They are shades of grey, white and black; their smaller beaks don’t have the characteristic bright colours that the adults have in summer.

“It is a crucial time in the puffin season and we want to ensure as many as possible of these wonderful seabirds make it out to sea.

“We are appealing to people to please contact us if they do spot a puffling – and also to watch the fantastic video created by Barrie and North Berwick Wildlife Watch, so they know the best way to deal with these amazing seabirds.”

Taken from: http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/be-on-the-lookout

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