AN animal lover made an unusual discovery when she found a puffin in a hedgerow near her home.

Teenager Emma Bickerstaffe was about to take her springer spaniel Lucy for a walk when she spotted the protected bird across the road from her home.

Emma tried to grab the puffin to ensure it was not hit by traffic passing but the disorentated bird made its way into the road.

Luckily cars started slowing down and one motorcyclist tried to help just seconds before Emma captured it.

She said: “I was surpris-ed, I took a closer look and was astonished to see it was a puffin.

“When I told my mum and dad, they could not believe it either.

"I know a little about puffins and I know you don’t expect them around here.

“The bird did not look injured, but could not fly. It was disorientated and tired.

“I rang the RSPCA up and they asked me if I was sure it was a puffin as it was really unusual to find one in East Lancashire.”

Emma, of Roach Road, Samlesbury, kept the bird in a box with a blanket until the RSPCA arrived around 4pm on Friday.

The St Michael’s CofE High School, Chorley, pupil said: “The RSPCA told me that the bird had probably come from as far away as North Wales and had got disorientated and tired.

“They had to contact someone else to find out where to take it and what to feed it on. The RSPCA officer told me it was a first for her to rescue a puffin.”

The puffin was taken to Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire, but had to be put to sleep.

An RSPCA spokesman said the bird was ‘severely emaciated’, and that its condition deteriorated overnight.

Wildlife expert Ron Freethy said puffin sightings in Lancashire were almost unheard of.

He said: “They are seabirds and it was probably on its way to one of the breeding colonies in North Wales.

“The puffin is not a very skillful pilot as it has short wings and a heavy body and it was probably blown off course and into Lancashire by a strong gust of wind.”