MARKING the return of the puffins to the Firth of Forth islands, the Scottish Seabird Centre’s popular mascot, Tammie the Puffin, is embarking on a tour across the region to raise awareness of the plight of the seabirds as part of this year’s Watch out for the Puffins.
Puffin numbers have been in decline in many parts of Scotland over recent years – locally the invasion of a 9ft alien plant called tree mallow on the islands of Craigleith and Fidra (owned by the RSPB) has prevented puffins from reaching their burrows to nest leading to a dramatic fall in puffin numbers on islands just off North Berwick.
Over the last five years, the Scottish Seabird Centre’s SOS Puffin campaign has seen a huge volunteer effort help the puffins, with over 900 people travelling to the islands to cut down the tree mallow, enabling puffins to reach their burrows to nest.
Despite this success, SOS Puffin needs to continue. To raise awareness of this and to mark the return of the puffins to the Firth of Forth islands, Tammie will be travelling to four locations across the region over the next month.
Clues to Tammie’s location will be available on www.seabird.org, Facebook /ScottishSeabirdCentre, on twitter @SeabirdCentre and in person at the Centre. A special word for each location will also be given.
On finding Tammie and providing the special word, members of the public will win passes for free entry to the Scottish Seabird Centre’s Discovery Centre where they can control the interactive cameras to zoom in on live puffin action. They will also be entered into a prize draw to win trips with Wild Scotland worth over £1,500.
Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “Watch out for the Puffins has been an award-winning campaign and this year we are moving things forward with a new twist! By getting Tammie the Puffin out and about across the region we hope to engage with new audiences, to raise awareness of this very important conservation issue while also introducing people to these fantastic seabirds.
“The Firth of Forth islands are of international importance for wildlife and by next month the area will be home to around 500,000 seabirds including gannets, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, shags, terns as well as the famous puffins. We would encourage as many people as possible to visit the Centre and see these amazing seabirds in action with our fantastic interactive live cameras.”
John Hunt, leader of the SOS Puffin Project, said: “The work that has been undertaken by the 900 volunteers has been tremendous. The nesting habitat for puffins is being kept clear of tree mallow so they can breed without difficulty but we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue the effort over the coming years to ensure the plant is fully under control.”
Caroline Warburton, Manager at Wild Scotland, adds: “I would urge as many people as possible to keep their eyes peeled for the clues, not only so they can meet the famous Tammie the Puffin but also to be in with the chance of winning the great wildlife-watching and other outdoor activities that our members are offering. There’s a fantastic range of outdoor experiences to be had, right across Scotland, and these prizes provide just a taste of what’s on offer.”