|Puffin census year!|
|Just a few to count....|
|Nest burrows to check|
|New 'Puffin Cam' in visitor centre on Inner Farne|
|The team counting burrows|
|Do we have one?|
Friday 17th May comments: It’s time for lift off. Having been in the planning for several months, today we launch our Puffin census, the first full population count of the Farne Islands in five years. The count, which will take two months to complete will bring the very latest population trends for the islands and will reveal more about our iconic birds which live on the Farnes.
The census takes place every five years and records date back to 1939 when 3,000 breeding pairs were recorded. The last survey in 2008 recorded 36,500 pairs of puffins across eight islands. Over the next two months, the ranger team will be surveying all the islands (a mammoth task as you could imagine!) and counting occupied burrows.
Puffins nest underground in burrows which means the Rangers will have to put their arms into the holes to check for occupation and until 2008, each survey since the census began 65 years ago showed a steady increase in numbers. However the last count indicated numbers had fallen by a third as in 2003 the census revealed there were 55,674 pairs living on the Islands. We hope to have the results by early July and it’ll be interesting to see what has happened since the last census.
On an even more exciting level, for the first time on the islands we have ‘Puffin Cam;’ two cameras beaming live pictures back to the visitor centre on Inner Farne of ‘life in a burrow’. At present one pair are incubating an egg and anyone visiting can watch Puffins like they have never seen them before. Stay tuned to the Farnes blog as we'll bring you more information a bit later today with some amazing film which was recorded from a burrow on Wednesday.
Welcome to the Year of the Puffin. Its going to be epic.