atlantic puffin

Where to see Puffins in England,
Scotland, and Wales too.
Boat trips, links to other sites
Tips on taking photographs

Places to see Atlantic Puffins

Pictures of Puffins | Puffins in Scotland

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Click here to see my Puffin Photographs.

Though only a very few puffins breed on the British Mainland, there are many colonies on the offshore Islands dotted all around our Coast . The largest colony, 250,000 pairs, is on St Kilda 60 miles off the West Coast of Scotland, but inaccessible to all but a very few. Likewise Shetland 150 miles north of the Mainland , home to 125,000 pairs is difficult and expensive to reach.

However there are many colonies only an hour long boat trip so away. Here are some that I know of, where the boats land sea conditions permitting, enabling you to maybe see these wonderful birds close up.

Wales Off the coast of Pembrokeshire in SW Wales, are the Islands of Skomer and Skokholm, each the breeding home to several thousand puffins. And over 200,000 Manx Shearwater nest on Skomer, but being nocturnal you are unlikely to see them.

Scotland The West Coast. On Lunga , one of the Treshnish Isles off Mull, part of the Inner Hebrides the puffins are so tame they will come up and tug at your shoelaces if you sit still for a while. The Isles were purchased by The Hebridean Trust in 2000 with grant assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, thus safeguarding their future. A fast boat, the Turus Mara, does trips daily in season. Keep to the paths and take great care when visiting. On a calm day its a beautiful trip. Almost like Island Hopping.

Orkney a half hour trip from the Northern tip of the Scottish Mainland also has puffin colonies , and great skua's too.

bass Scotland The East Coast.Moving over to the East Coast of Scotland at the mouth of the Firth of Forth is the Isle of May, home to thousands of puffins, kittiwakes, and razorbills too. Landing Trips to the Island, lasting 5 or 6 hours, leave from Crail or Anstruther in Fife.

On the opposite side of the Firth of Forth, approx 35 miles east of Edinburgh, and only a half mile offshore from the fishing village of North Berwick are two small Islands-Craigleith and Fidra, each less than quarter mile wide, but teeming with puffins ,and other seabirds, during the breeding season. As an added birding bonus two miles off shore is the impressive Bass Rock, home to 60,000 gannets, and easily the most accessible gannetry in Britain.

arctic tern England Moving 90 miles down the coast and into England are the Farne Islands, a very special place indeed. Only 2 miles off the coast of Northumberland, this group of low lying Islands, the largest of which are Staple and Inner Farne, are the breeding home to tens of thousands of puffins, thousands of kittiwake, arctic tern, eider duck and guillemot, hundreds of razorbill, In the waters surrounding them an estimated 2,000 Atlantic grey Seal.

There are numerous Boat Excursions available from Seahouses, many of which land you right amongst the birds. You can even take an all day 'Birdwatch' trip, conditions permitting, landing you on both Staple and Inner Farne. The wheeling flypast's of puffins are an experience not to be missed. Nor is running the gauntlet of hundreds of angry mother arctic terns, all convinced you are out to harm their chicks, as you make your way from the jetty up onto the Island. The newly hatched Eider Ducklings are so cute and fluffy too.

There are also a few breeding pairs of Puffins on rocks off the North Coast of Cornwall, between Padstow and Boscastle, and on Annet one of the Scilly Islands. Though there are boat trips to see the few puffins it is not possible to land on any of these.

Photographing Puffins

puffin Photography is a hobby. As you've probably gathered by now , if you are lucky enough to be able to visit one of the puffin colonies listed above, and have remembered to take a camera and some film, you should have no difficult in taking a nice puffin picture. They are often so close that you will not need a huge lens just some patience to get that perfect composition. Being able to keep still helps.

Believe it or not it's not that difficult to photograph puffins flying either. You need to either pan the camera around as one flys past or , as in the case of the one on my web page puffin pictures position yourself in front of the area they use as their landing strip, pre focus your camera to a spot a few metres in front of their take off point and wait for them. I used a 300mm lens and a 1/250th of a sec shutter speed on a old manual SLR for that one. See also my flying gannets taken on Bass Rock. One tip use a good quality film, such as Fuji NPS print film, its nearly as good as slide film.

Details of Boat Trips, and other Puffin Links

Pictures from Great Britain
Images of puffins,kittiwake, arctic tern, eider duck,
guillemot, and razorbill from the Farne Islands

Nice Puffin Pictures
Pictures of Puffins from Mull and the Farnes

Bass Rock Gannet Pictures

UK Birdwatching Links
John Stroud`s UK Birdwatching Links


Bass Rock
The Scottish Seabird Centre

Boat Trips to the Farnes
Telephone: SEAHOUSES (01665) 720388/720718
Hanvey's Boat Trips, 29 King Street,
SEAHOUSES, Northumberland, NE68 7XW
Explore The Farne Islands
Aboard Motor Vessel 'Glad Tidings' Billy Shiel M.B.E - Est. 1918
Seahouses - Northumberland
Tel: +44 (0)1665 720 308

Wildlife of Shetland

Puffins | Gannets | Squirrels

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