Dazzling colours, quirky expressions and world renowned recognisability; the puffin is a bird familiar to most nature lovers.
Those close up shots of these delicately painted birds with a mouthful of sand-eels, is the dream of most photographers. However their scarcity across the world and the protection of many of their breeding sites means that only a lucky few ever get a glimpse. Yet alone capture an image of the stunning sea-bird that is the Fratercula arctica.
Puffins spend the bulk of their life at sea. Mostly inhabiting the middle Atlantic. They tend to only encroach back onto the land during the summer months in order to breed.
This they do on soft, grassy slopes in deep burrows. Occasionally commandeering rabbit holes and the crevices of other birds.
Once established within a burrow – females will lay a single, large egg which weighs roughly ten percent of her body weight. This is in turn incubated by both parents.
Shortly, the arduous task of feeding the hatched young begins. Requiring a continuously diet of fish, molluscs and crustaceans. Parents only accomplish this by the combination of hard work, determination, and their own natural traits.
This species has evolved to be accomplished flyers along with being strong, determined swimmers. In which they use their thick splayed feet and strong wings to push themselves through the water. Yet, regardless of these herculean parental efforts, the puffin still resides on the red list for conservationist.
Breeding sites are often limited and populations have declined in the wake of several rat introductions – rats damaging the breeding sites and consuming bird eggs.
Moving forward, projects are underway to prevent the establishment of rat populations on the few puffins breeding sites left….