A watercolour painting of eight Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica).
One of my favourite things to do in the early summer is to go to Skomer, a tiny jewel-like island off the coast of west Wales, to see the breeding of colony of seabirds which make their nests there. When we went on one hot day in June 2018, there were an estimated 31,000 puffins nesting in their burrows on the clifftops, busily raising their pufflings, coming and going with beaks full of sand eels to feed their chicks.
They are so busy they take practically no notice of Skomer’s human visitors and if you are respectful and move slowly, they allow you to get very close so you can observe them in detail. It’s very handy indeed that my husband is a photographer of wildlife and good at ‘panning’ – taking photos of moving subjects.
Everywhere you go on Skomer you are treated to a puffin parade!
Puffins are in steep decline in the North Atlantic, due to raised sea temperatures (because of global climate change) affecting their prey species, but also due to overfishing. And, would you believe – in Iceland they still ‘harvest’ puffins for local comsumption, mostly now as a speciality dish for tourists. If you go to Iceland please say NO if you see puffin on the menu. Eating puffin is not wise. It probably tastes like chicken anyway – so if you have to eat birdmeat at all, eat chicken. Thanks!