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“Puffins affected by the crippling costs of climate change are counting on us” – Nada Farhoud

Climate change is driving puffin populations to catastrophic lows and they are at risk of extinction as extreme weather conditions affect their food supply

puffin
Nesting puffins in the Farne Islands

They are one of our favorite birds.

But as climate change pushes puffin populations to catastrophic lows, they’re counting on us to count them.

Keeping an annual inventory allows conservationists to quickly adjust their work to protect these precious red-listed birds, which is a matter of utmost concern.

But the pandemic meant full surveys were impossible, so this year’s survey off the Northumberland coast is vital to their survival.

But counting them is no easy task – volunteers have to stick their arms into the burrows in hopes of finding eggs, puffins, feces or an angry kiss.

“They give you a little sip quite often,” said Harriet Reid, National Trust ranger for the Farne Islands. “I can show you some scars. It hurts. But I’m used to it.”







This will be a crucial year to assess how the birds are doing
(

Picture:

Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

Puffins are in danger of extinction as extreme weather affects their food supply and predators target them.

These ‘sea parrots’ return to our shores to breed in spring and remain there until the parrotbirds fledge around August.

In 2018, 42,474 breeding pairs of puffins were counted on the Farne Islands. In 2019 there were 42,378. Last year, with a reduced survey, it was 36,211.







Puffins are threatened with extinction
(

Picture:

Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

Harriet explained: “The regularity of the census means we can react more quickly to any drastic change in numbers and see if there is anything we can do about our conservation work that could help the numbers recover.

“We think erosion from the extreme winds, rain and the island population of rabbits could affect the birds, particularly on Inner Farne where we have seen a large increase in the number of bare ground patches over the past year. Extreme weather events can also affect numbers.

“We might find, for example, that winter storms have resulted in increased mortality, meaning fewer birds are returning to the islands to breed.”







This will be a crucial year to assess how the birds are doing
(

Picture:

Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

Predators, such as large seagulls, can also affect the numbers.

The data is verified each year by scientists from Newcastle University.







No full surveys could be carried out in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic
(

Picture:

Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

dr Richard Bevan, Lecturer in Zoology at the University, added: “By analyzing these trends, we can see how the puffin population in the Farne Islands is being affected by climate change or local changes in sandeel availability.”

We can only hope that Harriet and her team can help reverse these trends.

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/puffins-hit-crippling-cost-climate-27096077 "Puffins affected by the crippling costs of climate change are counting on us" - Nada Farhoud

Fry Electronics Team

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