Hebrides Today

News from the Western Isles

Cosy puffin chicks

Posted by Editor On February - 9 - 2009
PEOPLE from across the globe who are adept with a needle and thimble have come to the rescue in an appeal to help save lost puffin chicks on the Dual World Heritage Site, St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides. St Kilda is an internationally important seabird colony and hosts thousands of breeding puffins from April until August, but every year, dozens of pufflings become disorientated by lights from the buildings on the isolated island of Hirta (St Kilda) and end up inland, instead of out at sea. Ranger staff, who live on the island throughout the summer, regularly rescue the pufflings by placing them in small, cotton drawstrings bags to keep them safe, take them to the coast and release them out to sea. Ranger Susan Bain explains: "Our staff take great care to keep any lights to a minimum. Despite this, we always seem to find some stray pufflings around the staff housing. It is really important that we make the release of these birds as stress free as possible. The bags really seem to work well and we need to replenish our stock for the summer season." Following an appeal for extra bags 80 offers of help came flooding in from as far a field as Australia and Thailand and around 100 cotton ‘puffling envelopes’ have been donated. St Kilda Property Manager, Susan Bain said: “We have been astonished by the response to our call for help. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated their time and expertise to ensuring that our puffling chicks on St Kilda are safely transported back to the coast when they get a bit lost. “The whole effort is a great example of the power of the volunteer, which as a conservation charity, we are so dependant on as we carry out our important work to preserve and protect. “With the response so far, it seems we’ll have plenty of bags to keep us going on St Kilda for quite sometime and we’ll be able to help out some of the Trust’s other seabird colonies who have similar issues. I’ve also taken the opportunity to ask for some bags in different sizes for other species too.”