With their colourful bills and comical gait, puffins are a much-loved bird across the British Isles. Nowhere is this more evident than Jersey, where this month islanders will be celebrating the puffins return with a new festival dedicated to the iconic bird.
As its name would suggest, the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) spends most of its life at sea, braving the open Atlantic Ocean. They return to land only to form breeding colonies, one of which is found along Jersey’s north coast.
Between late March and early April, a very small number of Atlantic puffins arrive on the island’s rocky cliff tops to build their nests. Despite their unmistakable appearance, puffins in Jersey are hard to spot. But beady-eyed islanders might catch of glimpse of them as they bob on the coastline between Plémont and Grève de Lecq.
A welcome return
Seeing Jersey’s resident puffins return to our cliffs is certainly a cause for celebration. Although puffins are one of the commonest seabirds in northern Europe, in Jersey dramatic reductions in numbers has brought them close to local extinction. A century ago, there were around 300 breeding pairs here. Now, it is thought there are just four.
To welcome these characterful birds back to the island, and highlight the plight of the puffin, the National Trust for Jersey and Birds on the Edge are hosting a unique festival on Sunday 10 April.
Islanders can take part in various birdwatching sessions and enjoy music from local performers too. The National Trust will also celebrate the arrival of the ‘willow’ puffins – two giant puffin sculptures that will be displayed at Plémont headland. The four-foot sculptures are made out of iron structures covered with woven willow.
Project Officer at Birds on the Edge, Cristina Sellarés said: “We hope that the sculptures start the conversation around the plight of the puffins and bring the Island together in a collective effort to create a safe future for our puffins.”
Held at the National Trust grounds at Plémont, the festival runs from 11am to 1pm on Sunday 10 April.
- 11am–1pm: Puffin Watch at the Stone Circle – with Alli and Neil from Birding Tours Jersey. Drop by any time, scopes and binoculars will be provided.
- 11am and 12pm: Live music next to the willow puffins, with Aureole Choir and local folk band Sonneux.
- 11.30am and 12.30pm: Seabird Trail taster walks with local birding expert and photographer Romano da Costa. Bring your binoculars and cameras if you have them.
Photo above taken by Mick Dryden.