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A Year in the Life of a Puffin

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The puffin is one of the must see birds for many people in the UK but they can only be seen when they return to land during the breeding season. This means a special boat trip to one of the few accessible colonies such as Skomer off south-west Wales, the Farne Islands off Northumberland, the Treshnish Islands off Mull, the Isle of May or Craigleith in the Firth of Forth.

Their breeding plumage is the most striking when they return to the colony in the spring. They have black upperparts whilst the under parts are white making the bird less obvious when hunting fish underwater when they are silhouetted against the sky. Males and females look identical to us although the males are slightly bigger and heavier with longer and deeper beaks.

The most impressive feature is the large bill which has a bright orange or red outer part separated by a pale ridge from an inner bluish area. A colourful yellow wrinkled rosette of swollen skin makes the join at the corner of the mouth. The legs and webbed feet also stand out with their bright orange colouration.

These distinctive breeding plumage features look as though the bird has just been freshly painted at the beginning of the breeding season and indicate to their mate that they are in tip-top breeding condition.

  Skomer Island Photography Workshops Dinefwr Stackpole Photography Workshop St. Brides Castle
  Manor House Wildlife Park Photography Workshops Grassholm Island Photography Workshop WWT National Wetland Centre Skomer Snorkel
andy davies photography & video tel ++44 (0) 1269 871870 Mobile: 07977 562321 andy@andydavies.info