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Farne Islands' rangers hope for successful summer for puffin colony


Puffins on the Farne Islands

Puffins on the Farne Islands

Puffins on the Farne Islands

Rangers on one of Britain's most important seabird colonies are hoping for a more successful summer after flooding wreaked havoc last year.

Thousands of puffins and other birds have returned after winter to the Farne Islands, which sit just off the Northumberland coast.

Last year storms and torrential rain flooded a huge number of puffin burrows, causing chick productivity to halve.

But the team from the National Trust, who look after the islands - which are also home to many other animals such as seals, Arctic terns, guillemots, shags and kittiwakes - are hoping for better luck this year.

Ranger Lana Blakely said: "At this time of year we'll see the puffins coming back, it'll gradually build up until we have thousands on the islands like we do now.

"They'll come on, clean out burrows, reaffirm their bonds and you'll see a lot of bill clicking, and they'll also go off for days on end feeding.

"And as they get closer to their laying date they'll be staying more and more on the islands, getting ready for that time.

"Last year we had a lot of storms and torrential downpours and a lot of burrows flooded, which is really bad for the chicks and eggs as it means they will fail.

"We had a much lower rate of chicks fledging than we did the previous year, it was nearly half, so quite a big drop.

"Hopefully this year will be much better, just fingers crossed with the weather."

There are around 40,000 breeding puffin pairs on the Farnes, which the National Trust describes as the "jewel in its wildlife crown".