Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ready, steady... jump

Our breeding birds are all activity at the moment as they prepare to fledge their young. Guillemots and Razorbills are calling from the sea to encourage their chicks to take the leap of faith which will see them jump from their nesting ledges high up on the cliffs to the waiting sea bellow, before they can even fly properly.  Puffin chicks will soon approach the entrances to their burrows to take their first look at the outside world and Andy Davies describes the trials and tribulations these birds face as they feed their young.
Puffin by Mike Wallen

 A Year in the Life of a Puffin Post 11

Who are the puffin’s main predators at the colony?

A puffin returning to the island with a beakful of fish has to run the gauntlet of herring gulls, lesser black-backed gulls and great black-back gulls whose aim is to steal hard won cargo of fish. These kleptoparasites harass the birds as they come into land, either airborne or patrolling the colony on foot, with the puffin trying to make a rapid dash to gain the safety of the burrow. They may land and then have to take off again as a gull approaches and make a few more aerial circuits before it is safe to make another attempt.

Puffins will often drop their catch without any contact from the gull but occasionally they are grasped in flight or a fish tug of war occurs on the ground. Great black-backs are also capable of eating an adult puffin and catch them either by circling above the colony and choosing a likely target or by waiting by a burrow entrance for a bird to emerge. The puffin’s only hope is to gain the safety of the sea or plunge down a burrow.

More info and images here

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