CASH IN­JEC­TION FOR PUFFINS

Bird Watching (UK) - - News Wire -

AN RSPB SCOT­LAND project to aid Puf­fin con­ser­va­tion has been awarded £49,800 by the Her­itage Lottery Fund. Puf­fin num­bers across the UK and Europe have plum­meted re­cently, lead­ing to the species be­ing de­clared vul­ner­a­ble to global ex­tinc­tion. Now, an in­no­va­tive project to help them will take place this year. Project Puf­fin (UK) com­bines the lat­est tech­nol­ogy with cit­i­zen sci­ence to dis­cover more about what Puffins feed their chicks, where they go to find food and how their num­bers are chang­ing. Counts will take place at a num­ber of Puf­fin colonies. GPS track­ers will be care­fully fit­ted to Puffins at two sites in Scot­land. Dur­ing the sum­mer, these 31 tags will pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on where par­ent Puffins go to fish to feed their chicks. This will then be com­bined to gen­er­ate maps of their off­shore feed­ing ar­eas, and to de­tail what con­di­tions they need to feed. Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the diet of Puffins will be gath­ered through the cit­i­zen sci­ence as­pect of the project. Vis­i­tors to colonies across the UK and Ire­land are asked to take pho­to­graphs of the birds with fish in their bills. An on­line por­tal will be set up to sub­mit the pho­to­graphs to; these will build a pic­ture of what the chicks are be­ing fed. El­lie Owen, who leads on the RSPB’S seabird track­ing work in the UK, said: “Puffins are won­der­ful birds that are in des­per­ate need of help. We’re im­mensely grateful to HLF for fund­ing this vi­tal work. “This project will give peo­ple the chance to get in­volved with the work be­ing done to save them. The project’s web­page will fea­ture reg­u­lar video blog up­dates from the team, peo­ple will be able to see where Puffins have been tracked to, what in­for­ma­tion has been gath­ered on what they are eat­ing, fol­low the sto­ries of in­di­vid­ual birds, and hear first-hand ex­pe­ri­ences from our Puf­fin coun­ters. We ex­pect the project data will ad­vise gov­ern­ment on the best ways to pro­tect Puffins at sea.”

Puf­fin num­bers across the UK and Europe have plum­meted in re­cent years, lead­ing to the species be­ing de­clared vul­ner­a­ble to global ex­tinc­tion

IN NUM­BERS

80% of Bri­tain and Ire­land’s Puffins are found in Scot­land

580,000 pairs of Puffins nest in the UK

Wor­ry­ing de­clines mean up to 79% are pre­dicted to have gone by 2065

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