Every year from August – October, the Puffin & Petrel Patrol rescue puffin & petrel chicks that have become disoriented by artificial lighting present in communities surrounding the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve; ending up in roadways and parking-lots.
Volunteering with the Puffin and Petrel Patrol:
While they cannot precisely predict the years or weeks that there are many pufflings in need of help, they typically run the rescue program for the month of August. This past year they had a record number of baby puffins returned to sea – over 700, with most rescues occurring mid to late August.
Puffin Headquarters will be at O’Brien’s Whale and Bird Tours @ 22 Lower Road, Bay Bulls for the 2018 season.
To be part of the rescues, all you have to do is watch for updates on their social media pages, and show up for a night patrol or morning public puffin release. Patrols typically happen every night after dark between 8:30 and 12:30 and consist of volunteers driving or walking around in the community, searching for stranded seabirds. Birds, are weighed, tagged and released the next morning either on a public beach or from a boat. Everyone is welcome to partake and pre registration for patrolling and release on the beach is not required. You will be asked to sign a waiver when you arrive and you will be given a Canadian Wildlife Service permit to handle the birds for the course of the program. We do provide you instruction and equipment but feel free to bring along your own gear as sometimes we run out if we have many volunteers out (flashlights, butterfly nets, reflective vests, gloves etc.).
*Puffin releases will take place on O’Brien’s Boat Tours 11:30am tour on Tuesday’s (when there are puffins to be released). Reservations are required for the tour. Note the Puffin Patrol team will release the puffins back out to sea, guests do not handle the puffins during the release.
They advise you to follow their social media pages and when it gets closer to baby puffin season to check daily for updates on patrol and release locations.
Planning your trip:
The Puffin and Petrel Patrol primarily takes place in the communities of Witless Bay, Bay Bulls, Mobile, Tors Cove. These communities are about a 30 minute drive from St. John’s. There are also many fantastic BnB, Air BnB, cabin and motel options in these and nearby communities. If you prefer to camp, the closest campground is LaManche Provincial Park, just a few minutes away. Some good places to start your planning are:
If have encountered a stranded puffin or petrel, please let us know the location. In the meantime, keep the bird in a dark shaded place and bring to an isolated dark area along coast and 1) hold out on your hand and let it take off and or 2) gently toss out and over the water. Please note the birds are scared and tired so please be gentle. For more information contact the patrol directly at [email protected]