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Telegraph’s Hysterical Scaremongering About Puffins

May 24, 2018
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By Paul Homewood



Thrusting your hand into an underground puffin burrow is not an activity to be taken lightly. For a start, should the protective homeowner be present there is every chance of a nasty nip.

Take a wrong turn and you could also find yourself knuckle-deep in puffin guano because the ultra-hygienic birds like to dig a separate “lavatory” tunnel.

But for the past few weeks, that is what National Trust rangers on the Farne Islands in Northumberland have been braving during their five-yearly puffin census. The rangers are not just looking for adult birds, but also for their eggs and pufflings.

So far the news has been bleak. The puffins arrived four weeks later than usual and initial estimates suggest the number of breeding pairs has fallen by 12 per cent.

A combination of climate change, overfishing, plastic pollution and extreme weather has left the little seabirds struggling for survival.

It means thousands of birds have vanished since the last count in 2013, with just 35,000 breeding pairs probably remaining. At the current rate of decline, conservationists forecast that the entire colony could vanish within 50 years, an alarming trend that is being seen across Britain.

Puffin numbers on the Farne Islands have been monitored since 1939, when just 3,000 pairs were recorded, but numbers rose steadily until 2008, when the population declined by a third from 55,674 to 36,835.

The last census showed a slight improvement with numbers rising to 39,962 breeding pairs. But the trust is expecting a new count of around 35,000 and is now planning annual monitoring.


As I have pointed out before, there is no evidence that “climate change” has had anything at all to do with changes in puffin populations.

On the contrary, there is ample evidence that industrial scale fishing of sand eels, the puffins’ favourite food, has led to population decline. On Skomer Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast, puffins have been thriving in recent years. In 2009, for instance, the Telegraph itself reported that numbers had increased to 13500, from 10000 the previous year. Jo Milborrow, from the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, said at the time:

"We’re delighted that the numbers keep growing but we don’t really know why. "We think it may be because of the increased numbers of sandeels which the puffins feed on. “

Since 2009, puffin numbers have continued to rise, with last year’s count recording 25000 birds, an increase of 12% from 2016.

The difference between Skomer and the Farne Islands is that sand eel fishing only takes place at scale in the North Sea.




In any event, the numbers that the Telegraph report rather undermine the whole climate change argument. If numbers rose from 3000 in 1939, to 55000 in 2003, when supposedly we have had global warming, how can it now be responsible for a decline?


As you would expect, the comments in the Telegraph are universally negative, and this one rather sums it all up:



  1. HotScot permalink
    May 24, 2018 11:05 am

    Thank God there are still sane people reading the Telegraph.

    It has, of course, been all over BBC Radio News this morning. Doubtless BBC TV will feature it tonight with all the climate change crap that they so fervently believe in.

  2. Paul Weeks permalink
    May 24, 2018 11:07 am

    I think the ITV news mentioned seals flattening their burrows. It may be a good idea if someone checked the puffins had enough available food to sustain the numbers. Seals are partial to small fish I sure.

  3. MrGrimNasty permalink
    May 24, 2018 11:09 am

    The ‘same’ article is in the DM and other sources. The doomed Puffins story is a staple periodic handout pushed from whichever central environmental extremist source creates and distributes these drip drip climate scare reinforcement stories for credulous uncritical MSM sources.

    • May 24, 2018 11:29 am

      When everyone is tired of polar bear stories or they cannot find their cute seal pup photos?

    • May 24, 2018 6:23 pm

      24 hour news, and that interweb thing are a major part of the problem. All news outlets are competing to get the story out first, or shortly after the others. Politicians know this, so they construct soundbites that require zero effort for the news outlets to regurgitate. Likewise, organisations write marketing and self promoting press releases for copy-n-paste.

      It is only blogs such as this that give a proper analysis.

  4. May 24, 2018 11:44 am

    This reminds me of an earlier piece on this blog about the demise of penguins in Antarctica based on a small sample, but projected to the whole of the population. Then, oops, they had not looked at other small islands which were about to sink due to the weight of the supposedly teetering on the edge of extinction penguins.

    Furthermore, the scientific wizards from Stony Brook NY had done much the the survey by peering at photos showing penguin poop in order to determine numbers. Seriously? Did anyone think of aerial photos and counting the blasted birds?

    It seems the same mindset is at work here. Look at one island and have a meltdown. Don’t either look elsewhere or consider other plausible reasons for the situation and then test the hypotheses. I wish these so-called “scientists” and “experts” could be persuaded to go the way of the dodo bird.

  5. Philip permalink
    May 24, 2018 12:02 pm

    It was on Today, Radio 4, with the Trust woman blaming climate change, wetter summers, bigger downpors etc for flodding puffin burrows.

  6. Jack Broughton permalink
    May 24, 2018 12:09 pm

    Sadly, the British Brainwashing Corp and ITV have done their publicity jobs and will leave the topic once the challenge grows: damage done and deniers foiled again.

  7. Bitter@twisted permalink
    May 24, 2018 12:22 pm

    Nowt t’do wiv climit change and all t’do wiv factery fishin.
    T’BBC r sceince iliterarts.
    Evun I can see dat.

    • HotScot permalink
      May 24, 2018 12:56 pm


      Now yur takkin my languwidge.

  8. martinbrumby permalink
    May 24, 2018 12:41 pm

    In Iceland at present.
    Smoked puffin breast as a starter course, last night.

    I just look forward to ‘research’ grants of taxpayers’ hard earned money, given to venal incompetents pretending to be ‘scientists’, becoming as extinct as the dodo!

  9. Broadlands permalink
    May 24, 2018 12:43 pm

    The Dodo was killed to extinction by just a few people. A change in CO2 was not involved.

  10. A C Osborn permalink
    May 24, 2018 1:16 pm

    Funny, I am sure that I read that the decrease in population was due to the COLD winter.

  11. roger permalink
    May 24, 2018 1:32 pm

    Yet again gross interference by scientists ( in practice hoards of incompetent and inept licensed under grads) with the flora and fauna of UK in an intrusive and frightening manner, causing birds to wheel screaming in the sky and dive bomb those attacking their nests and chicks.
    And for what?
    A worthless conservation degree leading to a worthless conservation job teaching another generation how to scare away the ever diminishing numbers of birds etc.that remain after years of licensed mistreatment.
    The general public, already banned from picking or touching any flora or fauna (because you’re not licensed you see) are increasingly kept away from such places and reduced to watching the wonders of nature on TV through the eyes of the privileged such as the dreadful David Attenborough.

    • Paddy permalink
      May 25, 2018 7:42 am

      You are talking about those heroes of conservation who bravely put their hands down puffin burrows, and actually risk putting their hands in puffin guano. You must admire their dedication, shuerley?

  12. Athelstan permalink
    May 24, 2018 2:24 pm

    for dodo’s add doodoos at the DT – BS or total guano?

    Sand eels end of story, no sand eels the Puffins vote with their tummies – hey they know that if you’re wanting to rear chicks, yers needs some grub – canny buggers eh?

    Lets see here, the alarmunists are upping the Ante, it makes on ponder, is there a globull warming change gobfest imminent? Water shortages yesterday, Puffins today, will it be back to the Himalayan Glacier’s death sequence for Friday? Or, Arctic ice gone forevah, birdmincers and more taxes will save the day? As I’ve alluded to elsewhere, since the June 2016 EU referendum result particularly since appeaser the theresa took over, the rampant climate fake news doodoos has gone off the scale, it’s almost as if theresa may’s government are merely the mouthpieces fed and run by soros, UN and his helpers @ antifa, greenpiss and Brussels.

    WE are Fake news Britain, HMG and the MSM are the past masters in concocting and delivering BS news..

    Light some candles for the death of TRUTH, lets have another concert and who cares about the real stuff – at toryHQ and across Westminster, their fingers are for putting in ears – and sticking it to the UK taxpayers.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      May 25, 2018 12:18 am

      I think the increasing torrent of scare stories has more to do with the public geting more cynical about the Great Global Scare. They are worried that the politicians will start to wake up and question why all that money is going “down the gurgler” (if I may use an australian expression, but I think you will get my meaning). Think who pays for all these sources of the basic information: who supplies the money to the National Trust? (well, the taxpayers but who decides to hand it out?).
      It has been a successful strategy for years for the Green inclined section of the populace; secure employment and a warm feeling of “saving the world”. In Australia if you go by press releases the Great Barrier Reef died in 1971 and regularly since, yet our leader – Lord Emu Brains – has just announced another $400 million “to protect the GBR”. The flood of drool from James Cook University (currently engaged in fending off allegations of scientific fraud and the sacking of recalcitant scientists) might well pose a real threat to the GBR.

  13. Reasonable Skeptic permalink
    May 24, 2018 4:13 pm

    Breeding pair of homo-sapiens have been on the decline for decades in many places on planet earth. This is obviously due to climate change as humans are simply too exhausted to engage in sex and raise their young as required.

  14. mwhite permalink
    May 24, 2018 4:29 pm

    On Sky news last night.

    Pause for thought, the “Farne Islands” were probably around 1000Km from the sea until the end of the last Ice age.

  15. Phoenix44 permalink
    May 24, 2018 5:12 pm

    Populations can go up and down in quite large numbers without there being any kind of “cause” we need to worry about. A couple of good years with plenty of food, few deaths of young, a decline in predators, etc etc can lead to overpopulation and a rapid fall in numbers. Utterly normal.

    The simple fact is that since 1950 or so, puffin numbers have grown massively, and that is good news. Worrying about small declines when we have had massive increases is just bizarre idiocy.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      May 25, 2018 12:21 am

      I am sorry to bear bad news but employment on the Telegraph or a political career will not be your destiny.

  16. mothcatcher permalink
    May 24, 2018 7:47 pm

    1939 – 3000 breeding pairs
    2018 – 35000 breeding pairs
    An alarmingly low trend, extinction threatens.
    What kind of fodder is this that we must digest?

  17. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 24, 2018 9:05 pm

    oh god when the Grauniad goes bust the DTel takes over?

    • roger permalink
      May 24, 2018 9:21 pm

      Provided the DT follows the same trajectory, I call that serendipity.

  18. Ben Vorlich permalink
    May 25, 2018 6:51 am

    One report I heard/read, can’t remember from which bit of the BBC, said that due to warming seas (this Spring?!!) fish species were moving North, So my thought was perhaps the Puffins have followed them?
    Spring 2018 hasn’t been the kindest to wildlife so perhaps a bit of localised cooling hasn’t helped numbers, having survived winter a late arrival of Spring tends to have a detrimental affect on wildlife populations.

  19. Europeanonion permalink
    May 25, 2018 7:24 am

    What is going on? I used to have house martins nest on my house, up to eight years ago. Gone. No swifts this year in my area. No frog spawn this spring in my garden pond. On the other hand, my town has a massive house building program and so has the county and adjoining county.

    Areas are left fallow for ages presumably in land banks. Left undisturbed they soon get populated with an enormous range of wild plant species which in turn must entice insects and then the food chain. Then one day, the diggers move in and wipe the whole lot out! What was a bonanza for the wild turns into a death trap.

    The Today programme had an interview with the puffin scientist: global warming, more frequent storms. How easy it is for such people to slough off their responsibility to the scientific method when their get-out clause is inevitably AGW, “Where dragons be”. The decline in indigenous species could not possibly be AED anthropomorphic environment destruction, could it? Today they predict a population for England alone at 60 million. Not much room for frogs then.

    • John Palmer permalink
      May 25, 2018 7:47 am

      Quite so, EO…. you should add to that crime-sheet Industrial Agriculture with its huge usage of ‘agrochemicals and vast swathes of monocultures (but with fetching little ‘wild’ strips left at the edges in order to claim some green credibility). I live in such an area and the bug count (visible or ‘on-the-bumper’) is next to nowt. Drove through a lovely area of old-fashioned, small meadow/woodland farmland last night – and there were bugs everywhere.
      Didn’t realise that Climate Change was so very localised!
      Another thing that bugs me (sorry) is that the little ‘wild’ bits they leave for nature are usually alongside the roads, so the car-kill of what little bugle is there must be very high too.

      • John Palmer permalink
        May 25, 2018 7:49 am

        Sorry – bl**dy spell-checker … not bugle, buglife!!!

  20. Europeanonion permalink
    May 28, 2018 8:31 am

    As Norman Davies points out in his wonderful book “Europe: A history”, herring was once the go-to fish in the Baltic. But they decamped en mass for the North Sea (where they were then largely eradicated). It may be that sand eels are following some instinct that we cannot as yet understand, such as the herrings did).

    The tragedy of the mass of information that Paul has garnered today is that one gets the opinion that people are charged to have a statement at hand (like a mission statement) to accept that there is Global Warming and that they have to have some procedures to deal with it. One can imagine that producers in the BBC are asked about the imposition of equality, racial compatibility, AGW, gender conformity, all things which their programmes must accommodate, in the doing only managing to perpetuate myths and resentments and instead of showing themselves as forwards looking only manage to make archaic and dissolving issues persist in the environment. If you talk about racism every day then racism is the topic of today and does more to maintain it than actually only referring to it as being something of the fringe and not the general attribution it gathers.

    Correspondents are being driven to ‘invent’ stories about AGW at the behest of editors who demand the conformity of ideas, like asking, do we have a policy on AGW and if not why not? Reputations are being trashed by people being driven to provide copy of a flimsy vacuous nature to meet with compliance (no doubt ISO and BS have lengthy demands that quality procedures demand this compliance).

    AGW is literary fancy. It is the forcing of an emotional response that says if you do not believe then you are apostate, hateful of humanity, a numbskull, a dangerous libertarian. But it is bred from computer models and high rhetoric; It is the product of an age where each exception has to be serviced and which in the doing causes society to halt its otherwise continuous progress and defer to people who would be better throwing down the runes and being asked to interpret the fiction they see. Portents, fears, it sound like the rule of shaman and the fear of what lurks on the forest. Rather than throwing our money at the progressive, the inventive, the intellectual, we are held back by those that can describe the death of a polar (without knowing the animals contributory negligence) in colourful language that might elicit a tear.

    This is the stuff of Dickens, a man who might have acquainted us with the underlings and unfortunate but who did not offer a single amelioration of the condition in science only in compassion. Today compassion abounds and it is trumping logic. We are in a literary medium which, unfortunately, people like the BBC control. We are in their element.

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