Tufted Puffins are not found in the UK or possibly the whole of Europe. So imagine the surprise of the British people who saw one off the coast on September 16th at the Oare Marshes reserve in the Swale Estuary near Faversham about 1 1/2 hours east of London.
This little bird, the clown-of-the-sea, is definitely far from home in a place very different from the natural habitat of puffins which consists of rocky sea cliffs at the Oare Marshes. His unexpected appearance begs the question, how did the find his way to the UK?
It seems the sighting of the Tufted Puffin is as exciting for the British as it is for us puffin lovers—inspiring people to travel from hours away to see it for the first time in a place it never visits. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people in the UK.
It reminds me how lucky I am to be living in a state where the Tufted Puffin feels at home, Washington State. But for how much longer? With global warming, natural predators and a lack of funds to really help protect them? I cringe at the thought of losing the Tufted Puffin and revel in the mishap chance of a wayward Tufted Puffin finding its way to the coast of the UK. Maybe he fancied a spot of tea. Maybe he was simply lost at sea.
Whatever brought the Tufted Puffin to the UK pales in comparison to the joy he will bring to the bird lovers who will visit him while he is there. We should all enjoy the Tufted Puffin while we can—near or far from its home—with its long, fuzzy eyebrows and quirky little walk before he moves on to a different place…due to climate change or worse due to neglect, habitat loss or natural predators.