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News / It’s an egg!

The egg! Danielle Gervois caught Puffincam 1 capturing the egg during a brief moment on Wednesday morning when it was not being incubated. Photo Promote Shetland

PUFFIN watchers around the world are celebrating May Day for other reasons than most after witnessing an egg laid online in Shetland.

The world famous Puffincam set up to observe a burrow on the cliff edge at Sumburgh Head has recorded a bird incubating an egg on Wednesday morning.

The news spread across the Twittersphere after the egg was first spotted by Frenchman Danielle Gervois in Paris around 9am, who posted a picture he had captured from the webcam on Twitter.

The local RSPB office at Sumburgh was alerted after one of their staff noticed the tweet while in Edinburgh and tipped off warden Helen Moncrieff, who had been keeping a watchful eye on the webcam herself.

“The puffins came in late last night from the sea and when I looked at the webcam this morning I thought she was incubating; rather than just sitting she was a bit more hunched in and her wing was out a bit,” she said.

“And then thanks to the joy of Twitter we found someone had taken a photograph of the egg this morning.”

The webcam was installed four years ago by wildlife broadcaster Simon King for his Shetland Diaries series, and has been recording puffins nesting every year since then.

The webcam is viewed by thousands of people across the globe, many of whom were heartbroken last year when the puffin chick, dubbed “Puffling”, died in mysterious circumstances.

Moncrieff said that puffins take between 36 and 43 days to hatch, so she hopes the parents will be feeding a young chick by early June.

There will remain concern for its wellbeing though, as seabirds throughout Shetland have been in steep decline due to the shortage of sandeels around the islands’ over the past two decades, a factor which is currently being put down to climate change.

“We all hope that the puffin hatches successfully and we can follow its fortunes throughout the summer,” Moncrieff said.

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