The RSPB at Sumburgh Head is organising a different kind of egg hunt to coincide with Easter weekend, which will hopefully result in the hatching of a puffin chick.
In a repeat of last year’s innovation, an online web camera, known as the “Puffincam”, will be installed inside a burrow inhabited by two breeding adult birds.
The RSPB is appealing to its virtual visitors to help them monitor the burrow, awaiting the arrival of its first egg of the new season. The burrow in question is the same one used last year for broadcasting live images of the breeding pair. Last year’s footage lifted the lid on the secret lives of the playful birds, covering everything from courting and eating to attacks on the helpless chick.
The Puffincam is part of the wildlife charity’s “Date With Nature” at Sumburgh Head, one of many UK-wide projects aimed at giving people up close and personal experiences with nature. Already cameras have caught two adult puffins inspecting the burrow, presumably deciding if it is fit for a family home.
RSPB South Shetland warden Helen Moncrieff said: “It highly likely that our visiting birds were last year’s breeding pair. It was about this time last year when they set up home and early in May we were delighted when we saw the egg.
“We’re hoping for the same this year and are urging viewers to keep their eyes open for signs that the birds are laying. The extra eyes will come in handy as it can be quite difficult for staff to monitor these birds everyday and we don’t want to miss any of the action.”
Last year, thousands of people logged on to watch the birds and Ms Moncrieff said it made for compulsive viewing.
“It’s easy to become hooked on Puffincam, these birds are adorable and watching last year’s chick hatching online was certainly one of my personal highlights. Of course the action doesn’t stop there, Puffincam follows the new family’s dramatic first few months as the parents try to feed up their young so it is strong enough to fledge.
“Sumburgh Head has some amazing wildlife, and although nothing beats experiencing it in person, it is great that we can share just a small part of this with visitors to our website.”
The Puffincam can be viewed and more information found at www.rspb.org.uk/shetlandsummer
If anyone spots the egg or any interesting behaviour throughout the season, they can email email@example.com
The Puffincam is a partnership project between RSPB Scotland, Promote Shetland and Shetland Amenity Trust.