Puffin Island

07th July 2009
I decided to take a trip to Skomer Island which is just of the Pembrokeshire coast. Skomer is famous for it's large colony of nesting Puffins and it also has huge numbers of Razorbills,Guillemots,Gulls and Manx Shearwaters which are nocturnal birds.
Before getting to the Pembrokeshire coast I stopped of at Gigrin Farm which is a Red Kite feeding station in mid Wales. It's the wrong time of year really for the Red Kites, they're very tatty at this time of year with most going through the moulting stage, plus the sun is way too high in the sky to get the light under their wings.

I settled into the tower hide and waited for the feeding to start, as usual with most of my visits to Gigrin the weather was very changable, thick cloud,thunderstorms and the odd bit of light. This made the exposures a bit tricky but by the end of the day I came away with a few shots that I was pleased with.

I've been trying to get one in a stoop since my first visits and it finally came, although I would have prefered a brighter bluer sky though.

I was pleased with this shot too, there was an half hour window of light at the time so I was panic pushing the shutter button..

Amongst all the Red Kites you get a few Common Buzzards too but they rarely come close enough for good shots. This one was coming in for the last few scraps of meat that were very close to the hides..

I finsihed at Gigrin and made my way down to the Pembrokeshire coast, arriving at my B&B early evening I threw my gear in the room and headed out to find Martins Haven. Martins Haven is where the Skomer boat departs from so I put it in the satnav so as not to be late for the first boat to the Island.

I was up at first light the next day ( can never sleep properly away from home )so had to kill some time before breakfast and the first boat to Skomer Island, so I took a wander down on to the beach. I spotted a few Herring Gulls near the surf and made my way over to them.

The light was nice and I thought it would be good to play about with slow shutter speeds and do something arty with wing blur and wotnot. Then all of a sudden the dreaded dog walker came along, the poxy hound was running all over the place chasing the birds off so that put pay to that..."#$%&*^%$%

I sat back on the beach watching the hound running about wishing I had a high powered rifle with me... only kidding... and before I knew it, it was time for breakfast. Belly full I made my way down to Martins Haven to get the boat over to Skomer,the weather was really nice by now and the sun had started to shine and I could feel it was going to be a hot one.

Once on the Island I made my way over to the Wick, the Wick is where the Puffins are really close to you, infact they come across the path where you're standing. Downside to the Wick, it gets very busy and becomes a bit of a circus really.
It took me about 2 hours to make the half mile walk to the Wick, I didn't really know the way and I kept stopping to photograph other birds that are on the Island.

I found a couple of Little Owl's perched on some rocks, although the light was coming from the wrong direction.

Skylarks were popping up onto the plants too.

There was also plenty of Great Black-Backed Gulls about, this one was with it's chick.

By now the sun was very strong and light was getting harsh, I rounded the corner and looked over to the Wick, it was packed. I think the Island only allows 250 people to visit each day and I reckon 249 were standing on the Wick.

I managed to squeeze in amongst all the other togs and grabbed a few shots of the Puffins.

The path is very narrow where you stand and with the amount of people coming and going

plus the harsh light I decided to give up on the Puffins that were on the ground and concentrate on some flight photography.

I moved to a less crowded spot on the Wick and started to try and photograph the Puffins as they come into to land. I thought the Terns I photographed the other month were fast but it's nothing compared to these things.

After spending a bit of time photographing the Puffins I moved back to the docking point of the boat, this normally has a lot of Razorbills and
Guillemots perched up on the rocks but it was very quiet with only a few birds about. According to one of the wardens on the Island the Razorbills and Guillimots bred early this year and most of them had gone back out to sea.

One of only a few Razorbills and Guillemots.


I was a little disappointed in the numbers of Razorbills and Guillemots that were present as I was keen to get some images of these birds but I noticed a lot of Puffins flying about in the bay. I moved further up the cliff so the Puffins were flying by at eye level and spent the rest of my time capturing some more flight shots.

Before I knew it the boat had arrived to take us back to the mainland.

I was very pleased with the days photography and had another planned for the following day. The weather could not have been more different though, it was pi%*ing down and I was soaked through before I reached the Island. However, the bad weather had kept a lot of people away and it was nice to have the Island so quiet. The Puffins were very busy collecting grass for their burrows, all the rain water was starting to flood their nest and emergency repairs were the order of the day.

They were coming out of their burrows in a right mess.

I also managed to get a few shots of the Razorbills and Guillemots too.

Despite the rain it ended up being a very productive day.

On another note my website has had a revamp, the images are much bigger now and I've added a few more sections to the gallery. There is also a search option available so if you type in a birds name all the images of that bird will come up on one page...

Thanks for taking the time to look.