Puffins are the cutest birds On. The. Planet. It is undeniable. Nobody who would disagree.
And we are going to see hoards of them today! At least we better. I’ve got no idea what to expect, but from what I’ve experienced of these types of wild-life spotting tours in the past, I’m not getting my hopes up (except that I am).
We have a hasty breakfast and scoot down to the port to catch our boat. We get there just in time. Our last boat trip has left me anticipating sea sickness, so for the 50 minute boat ride I concentrate very hard on the horizon. I guess that trick works, because I feel fine. The skipper announces puffin sightings as they fly by or, as is more often the case, float on the water nearby. We’re stoked already. There are even a couple of seals sunbathing on the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs.
I don’t know why, but I’m surprised at how beautiful the island itself is. All of my anticipation has been for the puffins; I hadn’t spared a thought for the rock they’d be sitting on. There are some very cool foghorns dotted around the island. They look sort of bigger than life and steampunk-esque.
We’re gobsmacked as we realise just how many birds are on this island — and how many puffins, for that matter! Our fears of not seeing any puffins on this trip are blessedly unfounded. They’re in the air, on the water and on land. It’s a puffin bonanza! A puffinpalooza! Every slightly horizontal surface on the cliff sides has been claimed and made into a birdy home. They put me in mind of the densely populated high-rise slums of China.
We get some interesting history and information about the island and the bird colonies who call it home, both from the skipper and a guide, before we head off to wander on our own.
Some fun puffin facts to know and tell:
- Puffins look positively drab in their winter colours!
- Puffins dig a deep burrow in which the female lays a single egg.
- Puffins spend 8 months of the year at sea.
Once on the island it takes us all of 5 minutes or so to find a possé of puffins to sneak up to. They let us get amazingly close; within a couple of metres. At one point, Kris asks Mike to scare off a particularly stubborn puffin because he wants an action shot, which takes some doing (no puffins were injured in the making of this photo).
We wander around the island for a few hours, snapping away happily and generally being envious of Kris’ superior gear which produces super-sharp shots like this:
Whilst we flaunt our HDR groove-thang in front of our more traditional photographer friend:
On the boat on the way back, we’re lucky enough to pass by quite a few seals.
Kris’ hardcore zoom lens comes in handy again:
Once back on the mainland, we grab some lunch then drive to Edinburgh to drop Kris off at the airport. Mission Complete.