There is now much evidence that puffins are having quite serious problems in the eastern Atlantic. Researchers from Iceland are very concerned about the decline in puffin numbers and are studying the genetic structure of the puffin population in the North Atlantic as a whole. However, they are keen to process DNA from elsewhere and have obtained samples from the Isle of May, Skomer and Canada. St Kilda is a desirable colony to include in this study so this season I will try to contribute by collecting small tissue samples from any dead puffins that I find on my travels.
With that in my mind I spent a short while looking amongst the rocks when I visited Carn Mor. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I didn't see any dead birds but I did come across a few live ones that hadn't tucked themselves out of the range of my camera!
Photo: this puffin gave its location away by making noise - I would never have known where it was otherwise!
Photo: this puffin wasn't tucked away at all!
Photo: cosy, but still not inaccessible!
Photo: sat tight and fluffed up keeping its egg warm.
I will hopefully post more about the puffins on St Kilda after I have marked the burrows that form part of the annual productivity survey. Easy enough but I first have to land on Dun and the weather conditions have been completely unsuitable for the last few weeks. Aaaargh! Fingers crossed for calm seas...