News / Webcam puffin falls victim to predators

Screeshots from happier days - Images: Courtesy of Promote Shetland

STAFF at RSPB Scotland have been trawling through CCTV footage in a bid to discover what has happened to the occupants of a puffin burrow on Shetland.

For several weeks, courtesy of a Promote Shetland webcam, hundreds of people have been following the antics of a breeding puffin pair at RSPB Sumburgh Head reserve.

However, when virtual visitors to the Date With Nature partnership project logged on to the feed on Thursday (16 June) neither the adult birds of their egg could be seen.Worried members of the public have since inundated the conservation charity with calls, fearing that the chick, which was due to hatch shortly, may have been predated.

The egg had been laid on 7 May and failed on day 40 of an average incubation time of between 39 and 43 days. In 2010 the egg was laid on 6 May last year and hatched on 15 June.


Newton Harper, RSPB Sumburgh Head assistant warden, said: “Sadly the burrow has failed this year. We’re not exactly sure why that is but these things do happen in nature.

“It may be that the chick ran out of energy when trying to hatch or it may have been predated upon, we cannot be certain as its difficult to see the footage clearly during the night.

“The good news is that we’ve already heard reports of puffin chicks elsewhere on the reserve. Our concern now is that these other young birds have access to enough food to allow them to fledge, but with reports of low sandeel stocks this will be no easy task for the seabirds on Shetland.”

Andy Steven of local tourism agency Promote Shetland added: “Unfortunately it’s not a happy ending this year but this is the harsh reality of nature.

“Each year we all learn something new and this can only strengthen the relationship we have with the natural environment around us.”

Puffincam can be viewed at www.shetland.org or at

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