29 June 2010

Puffin RAS retraps some old timers

The BTO's only Puffin Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) project has proved that a number of long-lived Puffins are thriving on the Shiant Islands in the Outer Hebrides. The RAS is operated on a steep north-facing slope which is home to thousands of pairs of Puffins on Garbh Eilean in the Shiants. The birds are mistnetted on fixed net rides, each 120 feet long, with each ride being operated for 2 hours after which the team moves on up the slope. Fortunately the same area was worked intensively in the early 1970s, so giving us the opportunity to catch these long-lived birds.

The Shiants Auk Ringing Group, currently on its annual two-week expedition, retrapped two Puffins ringed in 1974 on its first session on 21 June: EB38387 had been ringed as a pullus on 8 July 1974, and EB38480 as a breeding adult on the following day. This makes EB38480 at least 38 years old, and EB38387 (pictured below with Jim Lennon) potentially a longevity record for the species! A further veteran, EB73480, caught on 27 June was ringed as a breeding adult in July 1975. Despite 36 years on land and sea, the rings are still easily legible.

Posted on behalf of Dorian Moss who took these fabulous photos.

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