Puffin invasion has North Berwick in a real flap

The birds' burrows are thought to have flooded, leading them to North Berwick
The birds' burrows are thought to have flooded, leading them to North Berwick
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ONE was found mingling with guests at a four-star hotel, while another gave two mechanics the runaround at a used car dealer before their pal got stuck down a basement.

The bright lights of North Berwick were to blame after the seaside town was invaded by a trio of fledgling puffins over the past week.

The birds' burrows are thought to have flooded, leading them to North Berwick

The birds' burrows are thought to have flooded, leading them to North Berwick

The fledgling puffins, or “pufflings”, normally live on islands in the Firth of Forth at this time of year, such as Bass Rock and Craigleith.

Fortunately, however, they picked the home of the Scottish Seabird Centre as the destination for their summer holidays, with staff quickly on the scene to deal with the unexpected 
visitors.

Hotel workers were left stunned after one puffling, since named Buddy, was found waddling along a corridor of the 19th century Macdonald Marine Hotel & Spa, close to the town’s West Links golf course.

Lorna Nicoll, 20, reception shift leader, said: “It followed the guests into the hotel and walked up the corridor with them. It was a bit strange to have something like that wandering about.”

Sam McCaskill, who also works at the hotel, discovered the puffling and put it in a box inside the office, where he regularly checked on it, before taking it to the centre the next morning.

A spokeswoman for the Seabird Centre said: “Buddy initially resisted feeding but soon had his fill of tasty fresh whitebait. Once it was established he was fit and healthy, one of our Seabird Centre guides took him to the pier and he jumped into the sea and swam off towards the island of Craigleith.”

A second puffling, later named Feisty, was brought into the centre after being found at James Mitchell Cars in the town’s Dunbar Road. Feisty was also fed whitebait before being released into the water.

A member of staff at the garage, who didn’t want to be named, said: “The puffling was found wandering about the forecourts. It was running about underneath parked cars and hiding there. Two of the mechanics saw the little puffling hiding under one of the cars and then we had a bit of a struggle to catch it and pop it in a box, and take it down to the centre.”

The Scottish Seabird Centre urged residents to keep a lookout for any more pufflings in the town, with a third visitor being rescued after getting itself stuck down a basement near the Seabird Centre.

Chief executive Tom Brock said: “Every year, the pufflings get attracted into the town by the lights when they leave their burrows. This puts them at risk as they often wander under cars or can be attacked by pets and animals.

“We are appealing for everyone to please keep their eyes peeled to help save any more pufflings.”

He added: “We suspect that many puffin burrows may have been flooded in the recent wet weather.”

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com