THOUSANDS of puffins washed up along the east coast died as a result of starvation during the severe weather.
It is understood to be the worst puffin “wreck” — the death of a large number of seabirds in a single incident — in 50 years.
Razorbills and guillemots have also been found dead.
Tom Brock, CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, said: “The discovery of hundreds of seabird corpses along the length of the east coast, reportedly from Aberdeen down to Eyemouth and Northumberland, is extremely distressing.
“Many seabirds, including puffins, have been suffering significant population falls in many parts of Scotland in recent years and it is thought that this may be related to food shortages which could be a result of climate change and changing sea temperatures.”
Dr Stuart L Rivers from the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club, based in East Lothian, said: “Puffins normally winter well out to sea. At this time of year, they come back towards the land in order to find the breeding ledges. As a result they’re close to the shore, which means the fishing is not necessarily as good as when they’re further out.”