A pair of puffins have been released successfully back into the wild.
The two birds, named Tony and Don, were found injured and were taken into care by the Scottish SPCA (SSPCA).
Don was brought into the SSPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre on December 8 after he was found on a beach in Montrose with an injured leg.
Tony was spotted trapped under a pile of seaweed on a beach in Fife by a member of the public’s dog and was brought in the same day.
The birds, which are classified as endangered, were released near Elie, Fife, on December 28 with the help of the SSPCA and the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.
April Dodds, assistant manager of the SSPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre, said: “Both these birds were very lucky to have been found and we’d like to thank the members of public involved for taking the time to stop and help them.”
Because puffins are considered sociable birds, Tony and Don were paired up together during their rehabilitation to give each other company, Ms Dodds added.
She continued: “After a few weeks of medical treatment from our specialist veterinary team, plenty of rest and a good feed they were ready to be released.
“We’d like to say thank you to our friends at the Scottish Seabird Centre (SSC) who helped us with the release.
“Tony and Don were released on December 28 near Elie and, after a bit of hesitation, soon found their sea legs again and swam off together.
“It’s always a fantastic feeling to watch animals return to the wild but none more so when the animals in question are vulnerable species like these puffins.
“We know how tenuous the wild population is so it’s important to do everything we can to rehabilitate and release any that come in to our care.”
Susan Davies, chief executive of the SSC, said: “We have a huge amount of respect for the work of the Scottish SPCA and were delighted our team could provide some advice to aid the safe release of these rehabilitated puffins.
“Many of our internationally important seabirds, including puffins, are in steep decline and so it was just great to see Don and Tony returning to sea.”
The positive news comes after more than 100 puffins were found injured or dead on beaches in the north-east of Scotland and the Orkney and Shetland isles last month.
Experts have said they believe the deaths are the most serious they have seen for the bird population in the UK for this time of year in 50 years.
The birds included adults and young, with those who found the bodies reporting that the puffins appear to be emaciated, suggesting that these birds have been unable to find sufficient food while hunting at sea.
There is now concern that this “puffin wreck”, as mass deaths are known, will take a significant toll on next year’s breeding numbers.
The cases are being recorded by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), which carries out long-term monitoring studies to detect the effects of environmental change on UK seabird populations.
UKCEH said the results are likely to be released early this year.