Isle of Man puffins: Birds return to island after three decadeson June 8, 2021 at 2:47 pm

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The birds are returning thanks to a special project using model “decoy” puffins to help lure them back.

A puffin standing next to a decoy puffin

image copyrightKeirron Tastagh, Adventurous Experiences

Puffins have returned to the Calf of Man for the first time in more than 30 years with the help of a special programme using model “decoys” of the seabirds to help lure them back.

It is though the population had declined due to an increase in brown rats, which prey on eggs.

Now there is evidence of the puffins forming a colony on the Calf after they were spotted carrying nesting material.

Warden Aron Sapsford described their return as “a piece of history”.

Following a programme to eradicate the rats, an annual “decoy puffin” project, which sees models placed on cliff tops along with a sound system playing the bird’s call, was set up in 2016 in a bid to attract them to nest in the area.

Puffin carrying nesting material

image copyrightRob Fisher, MWT

Two puffins standing on rocks on the coast of the Calf of Man

image copyrightRob Fisher, MWT

The Calf, which has been home to a bird observatory since 1959, is owned by Manx National Heritage and managed in conjunction with Manx Wildlife Trust.

Atlantic Puffins, classed as a species of conservation concern, were last known to nest on the nature reserve in 1987.

Although small numbers of the birds are found on the coast of the Isle of Man, on the Calf itself the birds declined from a population high of 60 pairs in 1979 until the last breeding pair was recorded in the late 1980s.

Puffin carrying nesting material

image copyrightRob Fisher, MWT

Mr Sapsford said while a few of the birds had been seen around the coast of the Calf over the past few years, it was the first time they had landed in some three decades.

Their return was a “very exciting” development, he said.

“It’s encouraging to have a seabird that is hopefully coming back when a lot of our seabird numbers are declining.”

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