© Sharon Whitley
Probably my favourite seabird - how can anyone not love these birds, often called 'clowns of the sea', or 'sea parrots'. They spend the majority of their life out at sea and only visit our coastlines to breed and raise their young which are called 'pufflings'. I have seen them on the Farne Islands and on Skomer Island which they use for breeding between March/April and leave again mid August. It amazes me to think of all those seabirds living out at sea throughout the winter! The little pufflings will be raised in burrows being fed a diet of sand eels until they are ready to leave.
After about 40 days, the chick is deserted and stays in it burrow for 7 - 10 days, without food, whilst its adult feathers develop.
Leaving the burrow is a dangerous time for the young puffin, so it emerges at night to avoid hungry gulls. It cannot yet fly, so it tumbles down the cliff face and swims as far out to sea as possible before daybreak. It then starts learning to fly and fish. The following year, the young puffin returns to the colony, although it does not breed until it is four or five years old.
It's difficult to imagine the puffin without the brightly coloured beak but they only develop these bright colours on their beaks for the breeding season.
You can find out more about puffins here