Extremely rare 'golden' puffin spotted at Coquet Island in Northumberland

A rare ‘golden’ puffin has been spotted on Coquet Island.

A skipper for Amble Puffin Cruises spotted the puffin during a boat trip on Thursday and it’s the first time they have seen one at RSPB nature reserve on Coquet Island.

The puffin’s feathers are actually light brown, instead of their usually black, but appear gold when the sun catches on them. The lack of pigmentation is likely the cause of a genetic condition called leucism, which causes some, not complete, loss of colouring, making leucistic animals have white or partially coloured skin, hair or feathers. Leucism and albinism, occur at a rough estimate of one in 30,000 birds.

Unlike albinism, which can shorten their life span, leucism isn’t detrimental, but can can cause problems like hindered flight from weakened feathers and heightened risk of predation. There’s also a chance of not being accepted by a potential mate.

The rare puffin’s appearance follows on from the visit of the tropical bridled tern to Coquet Island, which was spotted by RSPB wardens on June 1.

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