Clifford's coast to coast: Puffin rescued from Northumberland beach and returned to Farne Islands

Clifford was rescued by the RSPCA near Bamburgh Castle Credit: RSPCA

A puffin has been on a coast to coast journey after being rescued from a Northumberland beach.

The seabird was found stranded near Bamburgh Castle at the beginning of April and taken in by the RSPCA.

There were concerns that the bird, who they named Clifford, may have been affected by oil contamination.

Clifford was then taken to the RSPCA's East Winch Wildlife Centre, in Norfolk, to be nursed back to health.

He was treated in specialist facilities and closely monitored by vets for three weeks to make sure he was waterproof and ready to be returned to his native Farne Islands.

The RSPCA and volunteers worked together to get Clifford back to Northumberland to be returned to the wild.

John and Cora Kitchen are RSPCA wildlife casualty volunteers, who help to rescue and release birds and small animals for the charity.

The couple made the 266-mile drive from Norfolk to the harbour at Seahouses, but their journey wasn't quite over yet.

John and Cora Kitchen taking Clifford to be released back into the wild. Credit: RSPCA

They headed out to sea with RSPCA inspector Lucy Green who rescued Clifford.

Lucy Green said: “I picked Clifford up at Bamburgh beach, but all the puffins live and breed on the Farne Islands so we wanted to get him as close to the colony as we could.

"John and Cora volunteered to bring him all the way from Norfolk and we got help from the boat tour operators.

“We were able to stop where we saw the highest concentration of puffins and soon Clifford was swimming around and diving for food.

“He was eyeing up some of the other puffins and seemed happy. I’ve done a fair few releases, but not one involving a puffin - one of the best parts of the job is releasing animals that you have rescued yourself.” 

Clifford was nursed back to health before being returned to the Farne Islands just off the Northumberland coast. Credit: RSPCA

It was a first as well for John and Cora, who are part of the charity’s Norfolk Group of wildlife casualty volunteers.

John said: “Cliff was much admired by the public at the quayside, but once he got out to sea and got a lungful of sea air I think the penny dropped that this was his big day.

“He just dived into the sea and enjoyed a swim. He had a bit of a dive and looked perfectly at home.”

RSPCA National Wildlife Coordinator Geoff Edmond said: “This was a great example of teamwork and highlights how wildlife casualty volunteers are such a valuable asset to the RSPCA."