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puffin photography

I have a huge passion for photography and I have missed my timing to take a photo of puffin wherever we have traveled. So this time we plan on flying into Manchester, doing the Beetles tour, the Dr Who museum and then driving onto Wales to go directly to a place where puffin should be, Puffin Island. We want to rent a carivan vehical (sleeper) and not stay at any hotels (advice welcome). We have done some research but still unclear the VERY best time to go and Very best area in Wales to get our best photo. We are not professional photographers or world travels so any and all advice is welcome. We did rent a car in Ireland and driving was tight but picked up on it easily, husband and I both drive stick and he is a mailman with steering on reverse side. We have about 10 days and limited finances. We rarely take scheduled tours because they are costly and I take a lot of time shooting. We are both physically able to get around and enjoy the off beat but still want to see the high lights. Would also like to know after Wales best way to fly back to the states in Tucson Arizona. Any Ideas or advice on planning our trip is welcome.

Posted by
3977 posts

Renting a motor home (not a caravan which needs a powerful car to tow it) is an expensive accommodation option.

May to early July is the best time to see puffins in the UK. They will all be back out at sea by August.

Puffin Island isn’t the best place to see them - this would be Scotland or the east coast. I attach details of a photography website denoting the best options.

http://www.photographers-resource.co.uk/wildlife/locations/birds/Lists/Puffin_list.htm

Posted by
5817 posts

Puffins really aren’t that common in Wales and you would certainly struggle to get up close to them.

Why not look at flying via Iceland and using that as a stop off to see puffins?
I have visited Iceland twice and saw puffins both times. The first time we did an amphibian boat tour (duck tour) and were literally inches from flying puffins. They really are bad at flying! :-)

Posted by
583 posts

There's an island off the coast of Wales called Skomer, which is accessed by small boat trips from St. David's in Pembrokeshire. There are puffins and other auks and over half a million Manx Shearwaters on this tiny island. You won't see the Sheerwaters as they only return from sea at night, but when we went at the end of May beginning of June the puffins were in evidence everywhere. Not only can you walk almost right up to them, having no fear of humans they virtually walk right up to you. It's impossible not to get half decent photographs of them.

We were blessed with super weather and calm seas, both of which make the trip possible (in rough seas or bad weather the boats may not sail) and there's a tricky exit/entrance to the boat at the Skomer end so a little agility is required.

The island is small - you can walk its length in less than and hour and there is a visitor centre on the island, the only habitation. To be certain of avoiding disappointment best to take your own food and drink with you although I think there may be a small cafe in the visitor centre (we spent all day outside so I can't be certain - worth a check beforehand!).

If by chance you can't get out to Skomer, the Pembrokeshire coast is wonderful and St David's always worth a visit - the cathedral in this tiny town is spectacular, and there may be other wildlife spotting opportunities nearby.

As mentioned earlier though the puffins only come ashore to breed between May and July and it's the only time of year they have their spectacular coloured bills. Rest of the time they live at sea. So timing of your trip is crucial.

Hope you can sort something suitable out!

Posted by
583 posts

PS. Don't miss the boat back. The island is uninhabited and you'd be stuck there and in very exposed conditions at that!

Posted by
573 posts

Also Alderney and Herm in the Channel Islands are good for puffins. Ideal time between April and July after that they are at sea, and you will need to be on a boat to see them! Google - Alderney Puffin Webcam - and hopefully you will see the last of this seasons Puffins!