Thursday, April 3, 2014
RSPCA returns three young puffins to the wild after their recovery from a bettering by the winter storms.
A group of young puffins blown ashore during the storms have been released today (Thursday) at Lundy Island by the RSPCA.
The three juvenile puffins, among an influx of 40 seabirds rescued by the charity during heavy winter storms in February, made the crossing to Lundy on the MS Oldenburg after two months of rehabilitation and recuperation at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre.
The birds were transferred on to a small boat and transported further away from the main ferry before being released on to the sea in Gannet’s Bay.
The youngsters are currently in moult, meaning their flight feathers are not fully formed and so a usual clifftop release was replaced with one on to water.
“The puffins were young and exhausted when they came in to us a couple of months ago but they have made wonderful progress,” said Paul Oaten, wildlife supervisor at West Hatch.
“We’ve had more than the usual amount of storm-blown birds in to the centre so far because of the severe weather we experienced at the beginning of the year. But puffins are one of the more unusual ones.
“They were just completely worn out by the stormy weather. It was lucky members of the public spotted them at their various locations.”
One bird was found huddling for shelter under a caravan at Brean Sands Caravan Park in Somerset.
Atlantic puffins aren’t usual visitors to Somerset and it is thought these three were blown in by the strong winds at the start of the year.
The birds were released as close as possible to the existing puffin colonies on the eastern side of Lundy.
Lundy Island warden Beccy MacDonald added: “It will be interesting to see if we are able to spot them on the slopes during the summer breeding season once they have re-grown their feathers over the next few weeks. We already have one puffin on the island so these three will soon be joined by many more.”
West Hatch has also been inundated with other storm blown birds this winter including guillemots, kittiwakes, gannets and razor bills.
RSPCA Vice-president Bill Oddie commented: “The staff at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre have worked tirelessly caring for these young puffins, along with the dozens of other storm blown birds who were victims of the bad weather at the beginning of the year.
“Everyone loves puffins and these three are very lucky to have been brought back to health after a very tough winter and Lundy is a fantastic place for them to be. They will be a welcome boost to the population on the island too.”