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Nature / Don’t climb over Sumburgh Head walls for puffin photos, RSPB says

Photo: Shetland News

A REMINDER has been made not to go over the wall at the Sumburgh Head lighthouse to take photos of puffins after a “number of incidents” in the last few days.

People going onto the cliff top could lead to burrows collapsing and erosion of habitat, the RSPB said.

Shetland manager Helen Moncrieff also issued a reminder that avian flu, which has had a devastating impact on seabirds this year, can be transported on people’s footwear.

A photographer with a professional camera was snapped sitting on the other side of the wall on Tuesday, leading to concerns over seabird – and human – safety.

There have been other similar incidents in the last few days.

The RSPB said the wall is there for the “safety of visitors and seabirds alike”.

“We are very disappointed to learn that people are going over the wall to take photographs of seabirds, especially as HPAI [avian flu] is so rife in Shetland,” Moncrieff said.

“At present, Sumburgh Head’s birds do not appear to be affected but the virus can get transported on footwear.

“Puffins have burrows all along the clifftop and people risk trampling burrows and crushing chicks or putting an adult bird off from feeding their chick.

“We sincerely hope that people put birds’ welfare before their desire to take photographs.”

The RSPB added that people can enjoy “fantastic, safe and close views of the puffins and other seabirds from behind the wall, without needlessly risking the birds’ safety”.

Last year the RSPB issued a similar reminder following reports of two people climbing the wall to take photos of puffins whilst having a picnic.