July was my second Puffins of Skomer Island Photography Holiday of 2017 for NaturesLens. This time I was to be co-leading the trip with the talented Kevin Morgans. He has a wealth of puffin photography experience so I was sure that it was going to be another amazing trip.
The trip for me started off at Gatwick airport. I was collecting a guest – who will be contributing his own Puffins of Skomer blog, I understand – Csaba, a long-time friend of David & Pui Hang, who was flying over from Hungary just to come & photograph the Puffins! It was great to have some company during the long 6-hour drive from Kent to the South West of Wales.
Kevin & myself met the rest of the group the following morning at Martins Haven which is where the boat departs from to Skomer Island. After a meet & greet everyone loaded their bags & food supply on the boat & off we went.
The weather forecast on arrival was not that great at all, Thick sea mist & heavy rain. Typical British summer weather!
Once everything was unloaded from the boat the group all made our way to the farmhouse which was going to be our home for the duration of the trip. Kevin & myself then gave a short briefing to the group asking what images & photography help they wanted to get out of the trip. I would say around 90% of the group wanted to learn or improve their bird in flight photography & also wanted to learn how to get a Puffin in flight with a very dark background. It is always useful when a big group of guests want to achieve the same thing, as allows us as guides to group people up to teach them all the same thing.
It is almost time – two weeks out – for the first of our annual visits to capture images of Skomer’s Puffins – for several years now, we have taken large groups with multiple guides to the island, the first trip of 2017 is being led by myself & Sean Weekly, the second by Sean Weekly & Kevin Morgans. That means that the weekend after next will be ‘cooking time’, there should be plenty of warming food for the evening meals, some cakes & we might slip the odd box of wine in.
This trip is to be held over the dates of June 17 @ 8:00 am – June 20 @ 10:00 am, & is to be lead by myself, David Miles, & Sean Weekly; the trip encompasses seas filled with rafts of puffins, razorbills & guillemots coupled with looming offshore rocks contrasting with exposed headlands or sheltered inlets, which are home to the seal population & many other mammals.
Skomer Island is located approximately 3 miles from Martin’s Haven on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast. Skomer Island itself is 750-acres of beautiful habitat for a variety of amazing wildlife experiences. The island has the largest colony of breeding seabirds in Southern Britain Beginning in early spring, thousands of colourful puffins crowd the island, popping their heads out from the entry to their burrows, they skim the visitors to the island as they pass overhead carrying sand eels or burrow materials.
Additionally, they are often to be seen socialising in huge groups on the sea. The puffins, the “clowns of the sea”, are endearing & utterly photogenic. You can expect them to come within feet of you & even to walk between your feet – they also have an uncanny attachment to walking right up to a camera lens, making for some amazing close-up shots. It should also be noted that the landscape of Skomer lends itself to wider-angle shots, incorporating the scenic backdrop & birds in the foreground, to show the subject in it’s environment.
Skomer is not only about the puffins, although they are without a doubt the stars of the show. The more sedate razorbills & guillemots watch visitors from the rugged cliffs that make up the island’s terrain. If we are lucky, we might observe Gannets diving into the sea. It is also worth noting that inland of the island there are colonies of short-eared owls, these beautiful birds of prey fly & hunt during the day on the island.
The puffin photography trip cost is £499 for the 3 night stay, this includes hostel-like accommodation in the converted farm house, breakfast & dinner, photography tuition from myself & Sean on an as-needed basis.
As mentioned, it is unusual for us to have a place become available at this late stage – if you would like to book it, please drop us an email using our contact page.
Val was amongst the small group that visited Skomer Island with Daniel in mid-July, although they had challenging weather on a couple of the days, one evening yielded super golden light, & the group certainly made the most of the opportunity to capture subtly lit images of the Atlantic Puffins, after all, that is what they went for.