Puffins return to Skomer Island as population grows to highest level since 1940s

Puffins have occupied the islands in south west Wales for decades Credit: Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales

Puffins have returned to Skomer Island, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales has confirmed.

Numbers of the colourful birds are also believed to be rising in south-west Wales, with signs of a "slow recovery" taking place.

"Welcome back old friend...the puffins have returned to our Skomer Island," the Trust said in a Twitter post.

Gina Gavigan, form the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, said: "It's always a huge relief when the seabirds, particularly the Puffins, return to our Wildlife Trust Pembrokeshire Islands of Skomer and Skokholm.  

"Both islands are internationally important for their seabird populations and are home to the largest breeding colony of Manx Shearwater in the world, and one of the largest colonies of nesting Lesser black-backed gulls in Britain."

Puffins have made both Skomer and Skokholm Islands their homes for decades, with studies into their lives on the islands stretching back to the 1930s.

The charity estimates there may be around 2,000 breeding pairs of puffins on Skokholm and 6,000 pairs on Skomer Island, two of the UK's most important puffin colonies.

Puffins can normally be seen on Skomer Island from April until August, although in April numbers can fluctuate until they are properly settled around midway through the month.

Puffins have inhabited the islands for decades

Mid-June to mid-July are believed to be the best months to see puffins, when their numbers are at their highest and the birds are engaged in a lot of activity feeding their young chicks.

As with many charities the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales has felt the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Visits to the island were stopped when the pandemic began, which almost halved the charity's income.

Last April, three cameras were installed at points across Skomer Island to allow people to watch the wildlife without visiting the island as part of a fundraising drive.

Skokholm Island nature reserve is also home to other marine birds including razorbills, guillemots and gulls.