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Burhou Island - Puffins and more


Burhou Island is part of the Alderney's Ramsar site. Burhou is best known for its Puffins; the colony now numbers a few hundred, having declined from a total of many thousand birds in the last twenty years. Burhou lies some 1.4 miles northwest of Alderney, and is uninhabited.

Wildlife highlights: Nesting birds include; Puffin, Oystercatcher, Storm petrel, Shag, Greater and Lesser black-backed gull and Herring gull. There are also large numbers of rabbits, and a few Grey seals on nearby Renonquet Reef.

Visiting the Island and watching the wildlife:  Due to its importance for breeding birds, Burhou is closed to visitors (unless undertaking licensed research) from mid-March to the end of July. There is a small hut on the island that can be rented during the open season.

There is a small colony of Grey seals. Photo credit Alex Martin.

There is a small colony of Grey seals. Photo credit Alex Martin.

Puffins nest in burrows which can collapse if walked on, so visitors are not allowed to walk in the nesting area, which has been clearly marked. There are several boats that can be hired to take you across the channel from Alderney. It is also possible to take your own boat, but there are very strong current between Burhou and Alderney and great care is needed.

If visiting the island by private boat, please avoid disturbing the birds (particularly puffins in the water) by keeping a good distance away from them or approaching slowly. Burhou can be accessed throughout the open season. If you wish to stay on Burhou, please book the hut via the Harbour Office. Transport must be arranged privately and landing can be tricky, so please take care.


These noisy black and white birds are found around the site, particularly the rocky shores of Burhou and Clonque Bay. They are easily recognisable with their bright orange bills and pink legs, and are known to attack gulls that come too close to their nests.

Grey seal

A small population of grey seals lives in and around Renonquet reefs, near Burhou. It is thought the seals use the area for a resting place and to search for food. Grey seals are distinguished by their patchy, blackish-grey coats and dog-like muzzles. Their extreme agility in the water enables them to hunt for fish, crustaceans and cuttlefish.

storm petrel

This elusive small bird occurs primarily on Burhou, nesting in holes and crevices. Adults feed out to sea all day on zooplankton and small fish, returning only at night to feed their chicks. Storm petrels are black, sparrow-sized birds with white rumps.

shags and cormorants

Burhou is a key area within the site for shags and cormorants, with shags outnumbering cormorants by 10 to 1. Cormorants (left) are similar to shags but larger and with white markings around their bills. Shags develop a glossy, dark green plumage and crest on the front of their heads during the breeding season.

These maps are intended as a guideline only; you must check the exact location of the reserve yourself. Wildlife Extra assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or usefulness of the information on this website.


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