Friday, 9 July 2010


With all the amazing birdlife on the island I sometimes forget about the other animals, so I though I would share this picture of some shrew babies we found in Jerry's vegetable garden under a plank. They were absolutely tiny, pink squiggling blobs tucked away in this cosy nest. We quickly replaced the board so that the adult shrew could get back to them.

Shrew babies
The puffin chicks (or pufflings) are getting larger every day and over the past couple of weeks we have been ringing them. It's quite hard to get the chicks out of the burrows, and involves lying on the cliff tops with an arm in a burrow up to the shoulder feeling around for a small squishy lump. This could be a puffin chick or a pile of puffling poo! Each burrow contains just one chick, and sometimes an angry parent.

Extracting the pufflings
Puffin burrows can be two or three feet long and sometimes bend around which makes it difficult to reach the chicks. Often there can be more than one passageway in the burrow and so finding the chick takes a bit of practise.
This little chap was too small to ring, the ring would have slipped over the foot and been lost so we put him back down the burrow. If you look at the end of the beak you can see the egg tooth which was used to chip away at the inside of the egg when hatching.
The majority of chicks were large enough to ring, we also measured the length of their wings and weighed them.

Fitting a metal ring to a large puffling
Pufflings leave the island about 34 to 44 days after hatching and make their way out to sea. The birds will not usually return to the island until they are two years old and will not begin to breed until four or five. The typical lifespan of a puffin is between fifteen and twenty years.

That's all for now,

Amy Corton
Assistant Warden

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