Up to 55.000 breeding pairs of puffins were recorded in 2003
Wardens have begun a survey of the puffin population on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast.
The National Trust census is undertaken every five years to chart the size of the seabird colony on the islands.
This year's results are eagerly awaited as heavy rain washed away about 800 puffin nests, many containing eggs or live chicks, last year.
Up to 55,000 breeding pairs were recorded in 2003. The new survey results are expected in the summer.
David Steel, the Farne Island's head warden, said: "The survey is very important as the puffins are almost a barometer for the Farne Islands and the North Sea.
"By counting the population we can see if they are doing well or doing badly and then examine the reasons behind that."