Party on’ for the Tommy Noddies
Coquet Island’s puffins will see another ‘welcome home’ party at the end of this month, as Amble hosts a week of fun, games, crafts and activities.
Amble’s second Puffin Festival will run from Bank Holiday Monday 26th May until Sunday 1st June.
Staying true to its original aims, the festival celebrates the return of thousands of the iconic little birds back from their winter sojourn on the North Sea. The middle to the end of May is the best time of year to see the puffins preparing for the birth of their young, known as “pufflings”.
“We hope visitors will come to Amble, take a trip to see the puffins on Coquet Island and join in the fun throughout the town,” said Festival organiser Elaine Brown.
During the Festival, there will be wildlife and environmental walks and talks, exhibitions, an arts and handmade crafts fair, as well as watersports, children’s crafts, and the return of the very popular Colony music festival.
“We are very fortunate to have expert speakers such as Dr Clive Waddington, who led the archaeological dig at Low Hauxley last year, which was featured on Channel 4’s Time Team,” said Elaine.
Dr Ben Burville a local GP and underwater cameraman will be talking about how he films the dolphins and seals found just off the North East coast, and Dr Paul Morrison will be talking about the history and wildlife of RSPB Coquet Island.
“All the talks are by experts in their field” said Elaine.
The Colony music festival promises another great lineup of popular local bands, including a Foo Fighters tribute band. This year the acts will perform over two days; Saturday 31st May and Sunday 1st June.
An arts and handmade crafts fair will be held at the Old Storehouse on Wednesday 28th May.
Amble Business Club chairperson Ann Burke said “Amble has such a lot to offer. We are very proud of the number and variety of independent businesses in the town and we hope people will come and discover them.”
Who are the Tommy Noddies?
The welfare of the “Tommy Noddies” as puffins are known in Old Northumbrian dialect*, has been of some concern in recent years. Numbers on the Farne Islands had dropped although Coquet Island had seen an increase in nesting puffins.
Spring 2013 brought weeks of persistantly bad weather, which proved extremely harsh for seabirds. Wrecks of dead birds were washed up all along the North Sea coast.
“Stormy seas make life very difficult for puffins” said RSPB Coquet Island warden Paul Morrison. “They spend their wintertime on the water. If the bad weather persists, they can’t feed and eventually are washed up on our beaches exhausted or drowned.”
Last year, the puffins returned to Coquet Island about a month later than normal and although numbers had dropped considerably, RSPB officers were relieved that the birds were in good health.
This year, however, the puffins have returned earlier than usual, with large numbers reported off the Northumberland coast, from the Farnes to Coquet Island.
“The puffins have had a tough time recently” said Elaine, “and we’re glad they were so keen to return home!
“Amble Puffin Festival is unique in being the first festival to celebrate the puffins along our coastline. We want to encourage visitors to join us in a week of family fun - and discover more about Amble and the magnificent Northumberland coast” said Elaine.