Puffin (Atlantic Puffin)
Distribution Britain 151 (-17.1%) Ireland 25 (-19.4%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 898,000 Ireland 41,000 adults
European status: 5,400,000 (9% in Britain and Ireland =3)
British population trend: some declines seem likely
These iconic seabirds breed in rather few large and often remote colonies often on islands. They are very difficult to count as their nests are underground in burrows or within tangled rock falls. It is thus not easy to relate earlier estimates of numbers to the current situation. However it is clear that Hirta (St Kilda), where there are large areas of old burrows no longer occupied, remains the largest colony. Few now nest on Grassholm which lost its peat through erosion more than 100 years ago, and most Welsh colonies are now much reduced. There was a spectacular increase in numbers on the Isle of May (Firth of Forth) from about 10 pairs in 1950 to about 12,000 in 1984 but then adult survival declined and the increase stopped. In Ireland there have been some 10 substantial colonies and several of the southerly ones have declined over the last few decades. Quite recently these birds seemed to be doing well but, possibly, they are now suffering the effects of global warming. As a species with a northerly distribution, the conditions may not suit them and this might be the reason that adult survival has declined and why fledging success at St Kilda went down over the last 25 years. Still loads of them but fears for the future.
Harris, M.P., Murray, S. & Wanless, S. 1998 Bird Study: 45, 371-374.
Harris, M.P. et al. 1997 J. Avian Biology: 28, 287-295.
The following Bird On! picture is available:
Puffin (Watercolour by Robert Gillmor)
The following Bird On! sketch is available:
Search for another Species
From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead