The ‘May’ has a population of around 46,000 pairs of Puffins, making it one of the largest colonies in Britain. They nest underground in burrows that are around an arm’s length deep and lay their single egg at the end of the burrow, incubating it for around 40 days before it hatches. It is around another 40 days before the chick is old enough and big enough to venture out of the burrow into the big wide world.
Now that we are open to visitors, the busy season is ahead of us with thousands of people wanting to come to the ‘May’ to see these amazing little birds. It is our job to keep the balance of having visitors on the island all the while making sure that the birds and wildlife are safe. With the Puffins nesting underground we ask people to be extra careful whilst walking and to stick to paths so as not to stand on burrows as they are fragile and can collapse easily.
This morning as I was walking around I noticed that on one of the paths, a burrow was beginning to collapse. It is situated right underneath the pathway and although the end of the burrow where the egg is laid is not under the path, the entrance at the other end is and the adults need to get in and out. So today I have been out building a bridge to keep this pair of Puffins safe and so that we can still keep the path open.
It’s amazing to think such dainty birds can live for over thirty years, catch over fifty fish at once and dive to depths of sixty metres! Perhaps there’s more to Puffins than meets the eye! Living amongst so much wildlife is a real privilege and it always throws up new challenges.