5 yearly census underway
May 2013. A Puffin census has begun at the north east's most amazing wildlife habitat, the windswept Farne Islands, as National Trust rangers attempt to find how many breeding pairs of these iconic birds live on the Islands.
Every 5 years
The census takes place every five years and records date back to 1939 when 3,000 breeding pairs were recorded.
2008 showed first decine
Until 2008, each survey since the census began 65 years ago showed a steady increase in pairs of puffins on the Farne Islands, but the last count indicated numbers had fallen by a third. The 2008 survey recorded 36,500 pairs of puffins across eight islands compared to 55,674 pairs living on the Islands in the 2003 census.
How to count a puffin
This spring and summer a team of eleven National Trust rangers will be travelling between eight of the Farne Islands to carry out the mammoth task of counting every single bird. Puffins nest underground in burrows, which means the rangers will have to put their arms into the holes to make sure that the nests are occupied during the comprehensive count.
David Steel, Head Ranger for the Farne Islands told us: "We've been monitoring a small section of the Farnes every year since the last census in 2008 and have seen a small increase in numbers in this area. We're hoping to see an increase overall numbers this year but you can't tell after the winter we've just had."