Thursday, 25 July 2013

If it's puffins you want just come.

 The weather has turned just a little wetter the last few days and the numbers of visitors have dropped off and yet for those that come regardless of the weather, then there are fine rewards on the Isle of May to be had.
Today was a fine example, it rained for most of the morning, combined with heavy fog and this made a fairly uninspiring sort of day. Visitors obviously thought so as only 39 made it across on the 2 boats but those few passengers found a different world. As the boats approached the island the fog burnt away, the rain cleared and the island glowed in the sun. And on the island was pretty much the whole of the100 000 Isle of May puffin population. Towards the end of the season you can get some of the most impressive puffin days of the year. There are many parents still whizzing in bringing fish to pufflings down burrows but many non-breeding birds also come back onto the island for a bit of socialising. The poor weather had kept the birds on the island and every part seemed covered with puffins and the sky darkened with waves of puffins sweeping overhead. On any upstanding rocks puffins gathered with plenty of communicating going on and many had muddy bellies where they might have been doing a little bit of burrow work.

These big puffin days at the end of the season are so of the most exhilarating of the year.

 Puffins gathering outside burrows on a slope at Colm's Hole.

Once you get your eye in you can start to see the differences in ages of puffins by their different bill shapes. The first bird below is a reasonably mature birds with a large bill that is well rounded on the top. The bird below is younger than breeding age as it has a much thinner, narrower bill with a straighter top edge.

Many young birds gather on the island at the beginning and the end of the breeding season to start to get to know the local puffin community, look for a partner and a burrow and get the hang of life in a puffin colony.

1 comment:

  1. Was in two minds whether to go to Island tomorrow but this clinched it for me - looking to get some photos of puffins and sound's like I could be in luck