MORE on 'Tussy', the Wollaton Puffin

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'MORE on 'Tussy', the Wollaton Puffin' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'MORE on 'Tussy', the Wollaton Puffin' page

OurNottinghamshire was recently contacted by Rod Brister whose father, Mr Donald Brister, found 'Tussy' the Wollaton Puffin in October 1953.

'Tussy' was found on the Oxton-Southwell Road, and Mr Brister took Tussy home to care for him.

Now, over 60 years later his son has sent us these wonderful photographs and a sheaf of press cuttings about this most unusual visitor to Nottinghamshire.

The newspaper cuttings record that Tussy lived in a box at Mr Brister's home in Leahurst Gardens, West Bridgford, but that the puffin apparently could not be induced to eat.

At first Mr brister was not overly concerened being aware that puffin's can go without food for a month, but as time wore on his lack of appetite did become a cause for concern. 

He did show more than a passing interest in one of Mr Brister's tropical fish (fortunately safe in its own tank), but with this not being on the menu, advice was sought from the Trent Valley Bird watchers society over the correct administration of sprat and herring.

In October 1953 the Guardian Journal newspaper reported that Mr Brister, who lived in West Bridgford, took Tussy on a visit to Musters Road Infants School in West Bridgford, where 500 children queued up to "watch him splash about in an improvised tank" after school.  Mr Brister's son, Rod, was a pupil at the school.

Mr Brister succeded in keeping Tussy alive for two weeks before he finally succumbed.

He was then passed to Mr L. Wilde, taxidermist at Nottingham's Natural History museum at Wollaton Hall, who may be seen in the lower picture preparing him for display in the museum.


Some More Nottinghamshire Puffins

Sightings of puffins (Fratercula artica) in the county of Nottinghamshire are - not surprisingly - few and far between.  They are normally birds of the open sea, except when breeding on cliffs or islands.  Those which are encountered inland are almost certainly 'storm-blown' birds which have been driven off course.

In the book 'Birds of Nottinghamshire' (David & Charles 1975, edited by Austen Dobbs, p.156) four sightings are recorded - in 1884, 1917, 1914 and 1953.

The last of these refers, of course, to Tussy, whilst the circumstances of the first sighting (1884) are recounted by J. Whittaker in his 'Notes on the Birds of Nottinghamshire' published in 1907.  On page 289 of this work, Whittaker writes:-

"Miss Webb, the daughter of the Vicar of Mansfield Woodhouse, picked up one of these birds alive on the road near the Vicarage in November 1884.  This is the only county specimen I have ever heard of: and thanks to her kindness it is in my collection."

Another puffin encounter - and one which would appear not to be recorded in Dobbs' book - is recorded in a letter to Tussy's founder by J. Staton, the then Secretary of the Trent Valley Bird Watchers.  Writing in October 1953, Mr Staton refers to a live puffin he obtained "a few years back" which was "in such good condition that I was able to send it by passenger train to my friend R.M. Lockley (the author of many books on seabird life) on the coast of Pembrokeshire, and after.... cramming it with fish, successful release was reported by him".


This page was added by Website Administrator on 14/07/2015.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.