In my Etsy shop you will find a number of images of Puffins, which have been photographed by my wife Michelle and myself on the beautiful island of Skomer, just off the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.
There has been quite a lot of interest in these beautiful little birds from the Auk family so I thought I'd share a little more information about them.
Puffin at rest in June amongst the daisies
The Puffins are not resident on Skomer Island, indeed they come to the island around April/May time in readiness for the breeding season. The puffin's beak is very distinctive but it is not always like this. After the breeding season, the horny plates on the beak moult leaving a small, blackish beak. The puffins cheeks will also darken.
Puffin on guard outside burrow
When the puffins land on the island they will occupy the ready made burrows that cover the island but they have competition from the Manx Shearwaters. Only one egg will be laid and the puffins will prefer to nest close to the cliff edge so that they can get back to the burrow asap to avoid the marauding gulls that will try and rob them of their sand eels that they will feed to their hungry chick.
A pair of puffins emerging from their burrow
Puffin on return to its burrow with a beak full of sand eels
Skomer is part of the Skomer Marine Conservation Zone and as a result, wildlife is in abundance. The numbers of sand eels are plentiful for the hungry chicks and a puffin can usually carry around 10 in its beak although the world record is 80!
On Skomer Island it is true you can be close to the puffins but one must always be mindful that these are wild birds and no image is worth putting the bird (or chick's life) at risk. You must keep to the designated paths and not venture off them as the burrows can be very close to the path. There was an incident where someone's tripod went through the ground and into a burrow. The risk is just not worth it and therefore we will always use a zoom lens to give the birds the space they deserve.
There are around 6000 puffins that occupy Skomer and some may find it surprising that they only stand about 8 inches high when on land. They have short wings which are more built for underwater swimming than flying so when you watch them fly, they look like wind up toys!
Having fed their chicks from June through to late July, the adults start to depart and will leave the chick to find its own way out to sea which is around August time. They usually leave under the cover of darkness to avoid the gulls. Puffins can live to around 25 years old and the best time to see them on Skomer is mid June to mid July.
More information on the Puffins on Skomer can be found here https://www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-skokholm/skomer/
We hope you've enjoyed our little insight to this beautiful bird - please visit us at our Etsy Shop if you wish - link is at the top of this article.
Rob & Michelle