One Of The Puffins Of Skomer In Flight With A Beak Full Of Sandeels

A focus on the Charismatic Atlantic Puffins of Skomer Island

Article written by David Miles illustrated with images contributed by Alison Jenkins.

Skomer is an island off the southwestern coast of known for its variety of wildlife. One of the more unique of these, & possibly most recognizable, is the . This bird, also known as the clown of the sea, has a black crown & back, with pale grey cheek patches & white underparts.

One Of The Puffins Of Skomer With A Beak Full Of Sand Eels

However, its most recognisable feature is its bill, boldly marked with red & black bands. This bird is also sturdily built with a thick neck, short wings, & a short tail. This stocky bird only grows to around 30cm (12in) in total length with a wingspan of approximately 63cm (25in). Despite its diminutive size, the can reach speeds of up to 88km (55 mi) per hour in flight. It can also dive up to 61m (200ft) using its wings for swimming.

One Of The Puffins Of Skomer Among The Campion

Most of the 's life is spent on the open ocean, making them very difficult to track. During the mating season, which usually runs from late spring to mid-summer, the puffin will return to its nesting area & burrow in. Sometimes, particularly on the island of Skomer, they will take over abandoned rabbit burrows, but they will just as often dig their own.

One Of The Puffins Of Skomer Perched On One Of The Headlands Of The Island

The puffins will prepare the burrow by cleaning out old nesting materials & removing any debris that may have drifted in. They will then build a new nest or lay their eggs on the bare ground. It appears to be a matter of preference whether they use a nest, as some puffins have been witnessed carrying materials into the burrow & returning to the surface moments later with the same materials still clutched in their bill.

A Profile Image Of One Of The Puffins Of Skomer With A Beak Of Sand Eels

Around 10,000 breeding pairs have made the island of Skomer their home. This number reached a low point between the 1950s & 1970s, but there has been a recorded population increase of 1-2% per year as of 2006. This gradual increase & the puffin's vast range have put it on the International Union for Conversation of Nature as being of “least concern”.

One Of The Puffins Of Skomer Amongst The Campion

When do the puffins arrive on Skomer Island?

Puffins are a beloved summer visitor to Skomer Island, with thousands of pairs arriving every year in early May. As one of the UK's premier sites for bird watching, the arrival of these iconic sea birds heralds the start of spring & the breeding season. Once on the island, puffins typically stay until around mid-July, when they migrate back out to sea for the winter months.

A Circus Of The Puffins Of Skomer On One Of The Headlands With The Sea Beyond

In recent years, volunteers have tracked the birds' arrival dates & monitored their activities to understand better how the island's puffin population is faring. With so many of these feathered friends to welcome, visiting Skomer Island at the start of summer is certainly be a magical experience!

A Profile Image Of One Of The Puffins Of Skomer With A Beak Full Of Sand Eels

One Of The Pufflings Of Skomer Pufflings Are The Young Puffins

When is the best time of day to photograph the puffins of Skomer Island?

The best time to photograph the puffins of Skomer Island is during the morning & early evening. The early morning & late afternoon provide the best light for capturing the puffins' sharp & bright colours, & the setting sun creates a warm & beautiful atmosphere. The island is only accessible for a few hours daily, & the birds are most active in the early morning & late afternoon.

One Of The Puffins Of Skomer In Flight With The Setting Sun Behind

As the sun rises & sets, the sky is often filled with beautiful lighting, providing the perfect photography opportunity. Additionally, the puffins are typically more visible & can be seen from longer distances as the light is better during these times.

A Pair Of The Puffins Of Skomer, One Stretching It'S Wings, With A Moody Evening Sky Behind

Where can you stay on Skomer Island?

Skomer Island is a popular destination off the coast of , renowned for its puffin population & breathtaking scenery. There is only one real accommodation option for visitors wishing to stay on the island.

One Of The Puffins Of Skomer In Flight With A Moody Evening Sky Behind

Overnight accommodation is offered in bunkhouse rooms, making it an ideal spot for those looking for an off-the-grid but rewarding holiday. With its unique attractions, Skomer Island is the perfect spot for a truly memorable holiday experience.

One Of The Puffins Of Skomer In Flight With The Evening Sky Behind

Which Tours Does NaturesLens Schedule for Photographing the Puffins of Skomer Island?

NaturesLens offers a range of photography holidays to Skomer Island designed to allow photographers of all levels to add images of the magnificent Puffins of Skomer Island to their portfolio. These trips generally are conducted in May, June & July when the wildlife found on Skomer Island is most active.

Our photography holidays allow photographers to capture stunning images of the Puffins of Skomer Island & many other species. During our trips, photographers will also be able to photograph various other wildlife, including Short Eared Owls, Little Owls & Manx Shearwaters.

One Of The Puffins Of Skomer With A Moody Evening Sky Behind Photographed On Skomer Island

At NaturesLens, we aim to provide photographers with an unforgettable experience that will leave them with beautiful, memorable images. Our trips are led by experienced wildlife photographers who are passionate about wildlife photography & are dedicated to helping photographers capture the best images possible.

A Pair Of The Puffins Of Skomer With A Moody Evening Sky Behind

About the Images Used in This Article

All the images displayed above were captured by Alison Jenkins, a guest on the July 2023 trip.

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