Concern as breeding pair of puffins fail to be seen on Jersey's north coast

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A PAIR of puffins from the Island’s tiny colony is among a group of seabirds which have not been sighted on the Island’s north coast during breeding season this year.

But the Birds on the Edge partnership has said that three remaining puffin pairs have successfully raised chicks and that hope endures for the return of the missing seabirds next year.

The partnership, which brings together the National Trust for Jersey, Durrell and the government’s Environment Department, provided an update yesterday to mark Wednesday’s World Seabird Day.

It said that over the past eight years, the Island’s small colony of puffins and their nests had been closely monitored during the breeding season by BOTE in partnership with the Société Jersiaise.

Between 2018 and 2023 numbers appeared to be stable, with four pairs of puffins using the same nests every year.

They breed among other seabirds such as razorbills and fulmars, sharing some of the slopes and cliffs with them but using separate crevices and burrows for their nests.

However, this year some seabirds – including the puffin pair, four razorbills and a number of fulmars – are missing from a particular spot in the north coast. The partnership said:

“The seabirds that are missing used to nest in a particular slope between Plémont and Grève de Lecq.

“Only three pairs of fulmars are left in this spot, down from 16 pairs in 2023. No razorbills or puffins remain at this spot.”

Explaining that it was likely that they were the victims of predators such as rats or ferrets, the partnership added: “During autumn and winter, these seabirds join hundreds of others from different colonies as they travel far into the Atlantic Ocean.

“While deaths at sea are a common cause of sea bird death during the winter months, it seems highly unlikely that all the birds from this specific spot suffered the same fate, while other birds breeding in nearby cliffs are all present.”

The remaining three pairs of puffins have each been successful in raising a “puffling”, as all have been seen delivering fish and a bounty of sand eels to their respective burrows.

BOTE added that it was hoped that not all the missing seabirds had perished, and that whatever had affected them did not prevent them returning to our shores next year to attempt to breed again.

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