04.04.14

A group of young puffins blown in during the February storms are homeward bound after we released the birds off the north coast of Devon yesterday.

Puffin © RSPCAThe three juvenile puffins, who were among an influx of 40 seabirds we rescued during the heavy winter storms, took a journey across to Lundy Island on MS Oldenburg following two months rehabilitation, rest and recuperation at our West Hatch Wildlife Centre.

The birds made the 22-mile trip across the Bristol Channel before being transferred on to a small boat and transported further away from the main ferry and being released on to the sea in Gannet’s Bay.

The young puffins are currently in moult, which means their flight feathers are not fully formed and a usual clifftop release was replaced with a release on to water.

Wildlife supervisor at West Hatch Paul Oaten said:

“The puffins were young and exhausted when they came in to us a couple of months ago but they have made wonderful progress. They have been fed a diet of sprats and are now all ready to make their way back to Lundy Island.

 

“We’ve had more than the usual amount of storm blown birds in to the centre so far, but puffins are one of the more unusual ones.”

They will be able to join other seabirds

Puffin being released © RSPCA

Atlantic puffins aren’t usual visitors to the beaches of Somerset and it is thought these three were blown in by the strong winds at the start of the year.

Staff at West Hatch and Lundy Island collaborated in the release project so the birds could be released as close to the colonies on the island as possible.

Lundy Island warden Beccy MacDonald said:

“It is wonderful we are able to assist RSPCA West Hatch with the release of these three puffins. As they are unable to fly, we released them at a safe distance from the Lundy coast so that they will be able to join other seabirds currently rafting off the east coast of the island.

West Hatch have worked tirelessly caring for these young puffins

Puffin on the water © RSPCA

As well as the three puffins, West Hatch has been inundated with other storm blown birds this winter with birds such as guillemots, kittiwakes, gannets and razor bills, coming in from across the region.

RSPCA vice-president Bill Oddie said:

“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.”

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Find out more about our rescue and rehabilitation work.