Page last updated at 18:29 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 19:29 UK

Europe's oldest puffin, 34, found

Puffins
The experts believe they could find puffins even older than 34 in the future.

Ornithologists say they have found the oldest known puffin in Europe on an island off the west coast of Scotland.

The experts who were on a bird-ringing expedition in the Shiant Isles in the Hebrides said they have discovered a puffin first ringed over 34 years ago.

The puffin, caught on Rough Island, was re-captured by the same ringer, Ian Buxton, who first ringed it and many others, on 28 June, 1975.

Previously the longest-lived puffin was a 33-year-old from Iceland.

There could even be a handful remaining alive from those ringed back in 1970, so there is potential to break the record again in the next few years
Dave Steventon
Ringer

Experts from the bird-ringing group have been visiting the Shiant islands since 1970.

During this year's expedition, they came upon two old-age puffins - one at least 32, the other more than 34 and the second bird beat the European record.

Experts involved in the British Trust for Ornithology's bird ringing scheme said it was possible even older puffins could be discovered in the next few years.

David Steventon, founder of the Shiants Auks ringing group and a member of ringing expeditions to the island in the 1970s, said: "These longevity records were almost inevitable, as ringing data shows that adult survival rates are about 92%.

"Therefore we would expect that about 25 of the 441 birds ringed in 1975 will still be alive and could be recaught in 2009.

"There could even be a handful remaining alive from those ringed back in 1970, so there is potential to break the record again in the next few years."

He added: "Compared to recent years, the puffins are having a good breeding season this year, bringing in good-sized sand eels for their young."



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