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Great year for puffins

25 July 2014
Back to Dun!
Hirta and Boreray from Dun

Last week I revisited all the puffin burrows on Dun that were marked in May. Monitoring nests like this over a season allows us to calculate productivity (the number of young per breeding attempt) and with this data we can assess how successful the breeding season has been and compare success between years.  Two puffins on Dun

Some burrows were very obviously occupied; an active burrow usually has a messy latrine at the entrance and trampled vegetation from the adult birds moving in and out.Active puffin burrow with obvious signs of use on Dun

In previous years, productivity on Dun has been relatively poor, but this year many of the burrows contained rather large fat chicks that looked almost ready to fledge.Puffling almost ready to fledge on Dun with Hirta behindBig puffling on Dun

There were a small number of young pufflings and of course it wouldn't be right not to add an image with the 'awwwwwww' factor!Downy young puffling in the grass on Dun

I can't calculate exact breeding success until I return to Dun and check what happened to the small pufflings.  Based on the information I have it looks 60-70% of nests fledged a chick.  This is a large increase on previous years when less than half of all marked burrows were successful.  Puffling on Dun with Hirta in the background

The island somehow 'felt' different this year.  With so many chicks needing to be fed there were of course huge numbers of birds carrying fish.Puffin carrying fish on Dun

And with so many birds flapping about, I'm not sure how these fulmars managed to get any rest!Fulmars resting with heaps of puffins flying overheadFulmar chick on Dun with puffins in the sky


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