Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Puffins are off for another winter adventure - but where to?

It is the time of year that the Puffins return to their "homeland". The place where Puffins are meant to be - out at sea. On the water their adaptions to life are more suitable. With legs far back on their bodies and short wings, life on land is tough. So being on land is purely for breeding purposes only. Therefore shortly after their chicks have fledged that is it - out to sea they go. Young puffin chicks will be out at sea learning to cope for themselves - a tough time and one which causes many casualties. Food supplies are further afield and need to be located, the day length (and time for foraging) is getting shorter. Once puffins have passed through this tough time and reached breeding age (three or four years old), chances of surviving year on year are greatly increased.

Razorbills and Guillemots have also left for the open seas - but where do they all go? It seems from preliminary results that the puffins, after breeding, are heading north (possibly as far as Iceland) then heading back down south to the north coast of Spain and some as far as the Bay of Biscay before returning to Skomer. The winter movements of all the auks is a mystery that researchers on Skomer are trying to unravel. The full results will not become clear for a few years yet.

Still plenty to see though with the fulmar chicks sitting fat, fluffy and happy on their ledges waiting to be fed. Kittiwakes almost outgrowing their muddy nesting mounds. Cetaceans are spotted daily by visitors and volunteers. Seals will soon be thinking about pupping. Ravens amassing over Bull Hole are always a gymnastic display.

Hope you have enjoyed all the auks as much as I have this year and I can't wait until next March to see them return. In the meantime - plenty to still enjoy.

Chris Taylor
Skomer Warden

1 comment:

  1. We were there last Saturday and were lucky enough to catch one of the last puffins http://nembrotha.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/puffin-on-skomer-island-pembrokeshire/