Skomer Island's puffin population 'down slightly' on last year's numbers

  • ITV Wales' Lewis Rhys Jones spoke to Rob Knott, Skomer Island's Visitor Officer

Skomer Island along the Pembrokeshire coastline is well known as one of the UK's largest Puffin colonies.

But an annual count of the species' population on the island has shown a fall in numbers.

The number of puffins counted on Skomer Island this year came to 41,605 which is between 900 to 1,000 down on last year's population.

Rob Knott: "Touch wood we’ve not had any puffins with bird flu on the island this year."

Rob Knott, Skomer Island's Visitor Officer said: "Last year's count of 42,500 was a record high, so a slight dip this year is not something to be concerned about, particularly in light of the bad weather we've had over the past few weeks.

"We've only had an opportunity to do one count, so we're taking it off that one number whereas we'd like to take it off 2 or 3 counts usually."

Aside from keeping count of the puffins, the team on Skomer welcome over 250 visitors to the island every day, with 16 people also staying in the hostel each night. That totals at more than 20,000 visitors per year.

Skomer Island is also home to nearly 350,000 breeding pairs of Manx Shearwaters as well as the puffins.

The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales has been working on a project to introduce new webcams on the island with the aim of ensuring that everyone can access footage to see the variety of birds and species that live there.

Grace Hunt, Fundraising & Communications Officer for the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales added: "We’ve got two cameras, one on the bank which showcases all the fantastic wildlife we’ve got, so puffins, rabbits, gulls, seabirds of all sorts, shapes and sizes. 

"We’ve also got a burrow cam which is going to show the life cycle of the Manx shearwater which are nocturnal birds that a lot of day visitors don’t get to see."

The puffins will begin nesting over the coming weeks, raising their chicks on the island before fledging from late July.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...