The public are being urged to play a vital role in the conservation of the endangered puffin population nesting along Fife’s coast.
Conservation charity, the Scottish Seabird Centre, is calling on the public to look out for young puffins as they begin to leave their burrows on nearby islands.
The young birds can be easily disorientated by lights that are visible from the mainland.
That’s why adventurous — though slightly confused — pufflings are often rescued from tight spots along the Firth of Forth coastline during summer months.
Young birds can be found underneath cars, behind bins stuck in tight posts including plant pots and reporting such finds will help conservationists.
Red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), puffins are regarded as globally vulnerable and declining in numbers.
By reporting any unusual sightings of the small grey chicks, the public will be play a vital role in helping this much-loved seabird.
Declining puffin population
Once reported, the team from the Scottish SPCA or the Scottish Seabird Centre will collect the pufflings and release them in safer areas, away from known predators.
North Berwick’s Scottish Seabird Centre conservation officer, Emily Burton, said: “Puffins and their pufflings are now leaving their burrows on the Isle of May and other islands in the Firth of Forth.
“Pufflings fledge at night to avoid predation and some can become disorientated by lights from the mainland.
“This may see them flying into town and seeking somewhere dark to hide from predators.
“We carefully collect the pufflings, take them out to sea and release them, well away from the dangers of the mainland.
“They then typically swim off into the North Sea, where they will stay for the next three years.
“It is important to note that pufflings look completely different from their adult counterparts.
“People often don’t realise what they can see is a puffling.
“They are shades of grey, white and black; their smaller beaks don’t have the characteristic bright colours that the adults have during the summer.”
“We are appealing for people to be extra vigilant over the next few weeks and, if they spot a puffling, to immediately alert the Scottish Seabird Centre on 01620 890202 or the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999.”
This year, around 4,000 occupied puffin burrows were recorded on Craigleith and around 45,000 in total on islands in the Forth, with two adults and one puffling for each successful burrow nest.