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Hurry to see puffins before they leave and return to the open sea

PUFFINS will soon be returning to the open sea as their breeding season on an island comes to an end.

DELIGHTFUL SIGHT: Puffins will depart as their breeding season comes to an end. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
DELIGHTFUL SIGHT: Puffins will depart as their breeding season comes to an end. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

The birds began arriving on the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth in mid-March to breed.

Puffins lay one egg and once hatched the baby birds, known as pufflings, remain underground in the burrow until they are strong enough to leave at the age of five to seven weeks.

When they are strong enough the pufflings depart at night and head for the open sea, returning when they are ready to breed around five years later. With no young to care for, their parents also return to sea until it is time for next year's breeding season.

There are currently around 100,000 puffins on the island, including the young. The Scottish Seabird Centre, which runs trips to the island, said enthusiasts have just a few weeks left to see the birds before they depart.

Chief executive Tom Brock said: "It looks like it has been a good breeding season for puffins.

"They have had lots of problems in the last few years with climate change, lack of food and winter storms but early indications are that it's going to be a good breeding season for them."

The Isle of May is owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Puffins are also found on the islands of Craigleith and Fidra in the Firth of Forth.

Their diet consists of fish, ­especially sand eels, and they can live for up to 29 years.

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