Puffin survey sees eight per cent increase since 2008

A puffin on the Farne Islands with it's beak full of sand eels. Picture by Jane Coltman
A puffin on the Farne Islands with it's beak full of sand eels. Picture by Jane Coltman

A survey of puffins on the Farne Islands has shown an eight per cent increase in the number of breeding pairs since 2008.

A team of 11 National Trust rangers carried out a full census of the population, which happens once every five years, across eight islands with the final figures showing that there are just under 40,000 (39,962) pairs of nesting puffins.

2003 was the peak year for puffins on the Farne Islands with 55,674 pairs recorded and numbers had been steadily increasing since the 1960s.

However, the 2008 survey revealed a dramatic crash in numbers by nearly one-third to just 36,835 pairs.

David Steel, head ranger on the Farne Islands, said: “The results of the puffin census come as a real relief following some difficult years for them with the flooding of burrows last year and a very challenging winter.

“We had feared that the numbers of puffins would be down again as has happened on other colonies, including those on the Shetland Islands.

“The bad weather during recent seasons has had some impact on numbers, but with a good nesting habitat secured by us and a plentiful supply of food in the area, numbers have been recovering pretty strongly, which is great news for the puffins and other seabirds.”

Extreme weather has had a major impact on puffins in the North Sea in the last couple of years.