A GROUP of puffins blown in during the storms earlier this year are homeward bound after being cared for at the RSPCA centre in West Hatch.

The three juvenile puffins, who were among an influx of 40 seabirds rescued by the charity during the heavy winter storms, took a journey across to Lundy Island following two months rehabilitation at the centre near Taunton.

The birds made the 22-mile trip across the Bristol Channel before being transferred on to a small boat and released on to the sea in Gannet's Bay.

Paul Oaten, wildlife supervisor at RSPCA West Hatch, said: “The puffins were young and exhausted when they came in to us a couple of months ago but they have made wonderful progress.

“They have been fed a diet of sprats and are now all ready to make their way back to Lundy Island.

“We've had more than the usual amount of storm blown birds in to the centre so far because of the severe weather we experienced at the beginning of the year. But puffins are one of the more unusual ones.

“The puffins were just completely worn out by the stormy weather. It was lucky members of the public spotted them at their various locations.”

As well as puffins, West Hatch has been inundated with other storm-blown birds, such as guillemots, kittiwakes, gannets and razor bills.

RSPCA vice-president Bill Oddie said: “The staff at West Hatch have worked tirelessly caring for these young puffins, along with the dozens of other storm blown birds who were victims of the bad weather at the beginning of the year.”