“You’re WHAT?” “I’m going snorkelling with Puffins” “How? Where?”. This was the general path of conversation when I told my friends what I was going to do on a Friday in July. I had found Andy’s page on snorkelling photography workshops on Skomer purely by chance and had emailed to enquire. Luckily he had a workshop coming up the following week and I decided to drop everything and go. I will never regret it.
I was travelling on my own and joined Andy and a BBC journalist, on a stunningly beautiful day, to get the first boat over to Skomer. I had not been to Skomer for many years and was unsure how many puffins we might see, but approaching the island I was amazed to see huge flocks on, and above, the crystal clear water.
Once on the Island we made our way round to a small private bay (a level of fitness is needed to carry gear up the path). Andy briefed us and I was suitably impressed with his knowledge, not only on puffins but other marine life, birds and photography. We geared up and with our decoy puffins accompanying us, we entered the water.
Quietly snorkelling, with our decoys in front, it took some time for the puffins to notice their plastic friends. Once they did, they got increasingly inquisitive, starting with one or two coming in quite close, to groups of ten or so coming within a few feet of our heads. Occasionally one would spook and they would scatter or often dive down right in front of me. I couldn't help but smile.
Initially I spent a lot of time trying to capture that dream photo - the moment when the puffin ducks its head down. Unfortunately, I ended with many photos of puffin feet, though these have a comedy factor in themselves. Towards the end, I concentrated less on photography and simply started to enjoy the privilege of being amongst these most wonderful birds. After a couple of hours we headed back to the mainland and discussed the adventure in a café in Marloes.
Andy certainly knows his stuff and I feel I learnt a good deal as well as had fun. All in all a hugely enjoyable day and would definitely do it again.