Over the last week, we’ve received reports of hundreds of seabirds, mostly puffins, as well as smaller numbers of guillemots and razorbills, washing up on beaches along Scotland’s east coast and on down to Northumberland.
These seabird ‘wrecks’ are thought to be the worst in several decades and may be the result of the ongoing harsh weather we’ve been experiencing. The exact causes are still unknown.
Despite their small stature, puffins are hardy birds and it is particularly concerning to see them washed up showing signs of starvation and exhaustion.
After fledging from our seacliffs in late summer, these birds travel long distances and spend the winter months at sea, before returning to our shores for the breeding season in late spring.
There are concerns that the scale of this wreck may have an impact on the upcoming seabird breeding season as many species are already facing steep declines. Conservationists will be monitoring populations closely throughout the summer season.
We are working with the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) to monitor the situation and learn as much as possible about the cause of the wrecks. Recovery of the birds along our beaches for post-mortem examination is currently underway. You can help by reporting any sightings to us or the CEH.
Renowned seabird expert Mike Harris is on the scene and wrote an informative blog update yesterday. Keep an eye on this blog for further updates.
Wrecks have been reported at the following locations:
Beadnell Beach, Northumberland