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First Puffin chick spotted on Lundy island for 30 years

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Old Friday 15th July 2005, 17:00   #1
Chris Monk
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First Puffin chick spotted on Lundy island for 30 years

English Nature press release:

14 July 2005

First puffin chick spotted on Lundy island for 30 years

A puffin chick has been spotted for the first time in 30 years on Lundy island in the Bristol Channel.

The young bird was seen by Ben Sampson, the island warden, who had camped overnight to start watching the puffins at first light. He said: “Four of the six nesting burrows I knew about still appeared to be occupied and I saw a total of nine adults land together. Then, just before seven o’clock, a juvenile bird appeared in the entrance of one of the burrows, closely watched by its parent. The youngster had very little, if any, down left and I'm sure it was very close to fledging. This is the first recorded puffin chick since 1972 and I’m really excited to be the one to have spotted it!”

Puffins only occur at a handful of sites in the South West and Lundy is potentially one of the most important sites in the whole of England. Seabirds have been declining on the island for decades with puffins down to only 10 pairs in 2000 from a recorded 3,500 pairs in 1939, and there were only 166 pairs of Manx shearwaters in 2001, far fewer than expected. Lundy means ‘puffin island’ in ancient Norse language.

A Seabird Recovery Project run by English Nature, RSPB, the Landmark Trust and the National Trust has been working on the island since 2002. Project Manager David Appleton, from English Nature, commented: “The project team has been waiting for this fantastic news for years. The first sign of a potential seabird recovery was when Manx shearwaters were recorded on the island last September (2004). We are delighted but unfortunately it is too early to tell for sure if it is as a direct result of the work we did over the winters of 2002 and 2003, but we sincerely hope that it is. A great deal of hard work was done to improve the island to give the birds every chance of breeding successfully including eradicating the rats and improving the island’s waste management."

The RSPB’s South West conservation manager, Leigh Lock, said: "We’re delighted at this news. It may take decades for their numbers to rise substantially, but hopefully it is the first step to securing the long term future of puffins on Lundy."

Notes for editors
Pictures of Manx shearwater and puffin are available from the contacts listed below. Moving images of seabirds are available from
Lundy Island lies in the Bristol Channel, about 11 miles off the coast of North Devon, owned by the National Trust it is administered and maintained by the Landmark Trust. It is a granite outcrop three miles long, half a mile wide and rises 400 feet above sea level. It is home to many plants and animals some of which only occur on Lundy and is particularly important for its birdlife. It is nationally recognised and legally protected for the valuable wildlife it supports and the surrounding waters hold England’s only Marine Nature Reserve. The seabird colonies are one of the reasons the island has protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and there is a statutory obligation to protect, enhance and maintain those colonies.
The UK holds around 75% of the World’s Manx shearwater with some 290,000 pairs. Lundy Island has only 166 pairs of Manx shearwater but is believed to be able support around 2,000. The total UK puffin population is estimated to be around 900,000, about 10% of the world’s population. They have been counted on Lundy since 1939 when the population was estimated to be 3,500 pairs. The 2000 survey found only 13 individuals.
The Lundy Seabird Recovery Project formed in 2001 because they believed that rats eating the eggs and chicks of the birds that nest in burrows in the ground had pushed them to the point where they may be lost from the island. They found the best way to eradicate rats from Lundy, which do not occur there naturally, but arrived over the years on ships visiting the island. Detailed plans for the eradication were designed, paying special attention to the safety of islanders, visitors and the other wildlife on the island. A resident work party waited until the winter, when the breeding birds had left the island, before laying a grid of bait-stations, which they checked weekly over the winter. The Project is led by - English Nature, the Government agency that champions the conservation of wildlife and geology throughout England. with The Landmark Trust, a building preservation charity that rescues and restores architecturally interesting buildings and historic buildings at risk, giving them a future by letting them for self catering holidays. The National Trust, The National Trust, Europe's largest conservation charity with over 3.2 million members. Founded in 1895, it is the largest non-governmental landowner in Britain, and cares for over 250,000 hectares of countryside and coastline across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and looks after over 600 historic sites including houses, gardens and industrial buildings. RSPB, The RSPB is Europe's largest wildlife conservation charity, with more than one million members, and is the UK Partner of BirdLife International, the global network of bird conservation organisations.

For further information, contact - English Nature Stuart Burgess, Press Officer, 01733 455190, out of hours 07970.098005 RSPB Sophie Atherton, SW Media Officer, 01392 453753 or 07834 147359 Landmark Trust Katherine Oakes, Communications Co-ordinator, 01628 825920 National Trust Claire Bolitho, Communications Officer, Devon, 01392 883105, out of hours 07775 703082
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Old Friday 15th July 2005, 17:41   #2
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Fantastic news!!!

Eagles!!!!! Eagles!!!!!
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Old Thursday 18th August 2005, 18:03   #3
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Chris, I'm planning to go to Orkney for a couple of weeks next May (2006). Is mid-May a good time to see puffins nesting on the Orkney Islands?


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Old Thursday 18th August 2005, 19:33   #4
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Originally Posted by jstarkf
Chris, I'm planning to go to Orkney for a couple of weeks next May (2006). Is mid-May a good time to see puffins nesting on the Orkney Islands?


Puffins will certainly be nesting in mid-May (assuming no further Sandeel calamities) but are easier to watch in late may/early june when the adults are feeding young. If you are stuck with mid-may then check out the colonies on sunny evenings (rare in Orkney ) when non-incubating adults often loaf around in groups- assuming there are no hungry Bonxies (Great Skuas/Jaegers) or Great black-backed Gulls around.
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Old Thursday 18th August 2005, 20:26   #5
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Good news. And good birds to get publicity for.

We have a few in a zoo here. I don't favor captive birds, but no doubt that it gives a good lesson to the kids, they also love the birds.

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Last in ABA list: 367 Cassin's finch (day before that had American dipper). Also added Atlantic puffin from 2009.
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Old Friday 19th August 2005, 08:03   #6
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Originally Posted by Tero
but no doubt that it gives a good lesson to the kids
I doubt it very much indeed. It gives too many bad messages too like

"This is OK, so long as we do this we don't need to worry about wild birds 'cos we can preserve all we need in captivity".

Spend the money defending wild habitats.

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Old Friday 19th August 2005, 12:27   #7
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Greast news. Hopefully in years to come there will be hundreds of puffins around the Island.
I was on Lundy in May and a Manx shear flew over my head in the outside toilet calling!
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