Mearns lad will remember a puffling called Alex

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A baby puffin, or puffling, has been named “Alex” after it was rescued during a Mearns family’s trip to the Isle of May – renowned for its seabird life.

The Extra’ sister paper The Scotsman reports that it’s the time of year when pufflings venture into the Forth for the first time, and often end up in a bit of a flap.

This year the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick has been urging people to keep an eye out for these apprentice puffins, as two have already been rescued this season.

The centre’s boat guide, James Leyden, was involved in both of the mercy missions last week, the first on the Isle of May.

James had already rescued one little bird on the Isle when another was discovered to be trapped between a bedof nettles and a wall, obstructing the way to the sea.

He was helped by the Douglas family from Newton Mearns, and ten-year-old Alex Douglas’s mum Catriona later said the experience had been “a wonderful family moment for us”.

She said: “We had a fabulous day out on the Isle of May trip.

“During the day, the guide James found a puffling and we were lucky enough to see him release it from the boat into the sea.”

Alex, meanwhile, was chuffed to find that James has a tradition of naming rescued pufflings after the youngest passenger, so that little bird is now named Alex.

James said: “After leaving their burrows some pufflings can become disorientated by lights from the mainland. “Their first ever flight may see them flying into town and seeking somewhere dark to hide from predators, often underneath cars and under plants in gardens.

““When we take the pufflings out to sea, we take them well away from the islands and especially the predator gulls.

“Both pufflings took to the water with vigour, enjoying their first dive almost immediately, which is a good sign.

“They then swam off into the North Sea where they will typically live for the next three years.”

The seabird centre is appealing for people to be vigilant over the next six weeks.

Anyone who finds a puffling should alert them on 01620 890202 or the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999.