One day a friend, suddenly catching me, asks me: “Hey, are we going to see the “Puffin” on the Skomer Island?”
WHO THE PUFFIN ARE
The puffin are part of the family of the alcids and live along the coasts of the North Atlantic Ocean and are present in Iceland, Norway, Ireland and United Kingdom. Its dimensions are very small, at most they reach 30 cm per 600 gr of weight. They have a dense waterproof plumage that keeps them warm during the cold season. Their neck, back and wings are black with white undersides and whitish feathers on the sides of the face. Their legs are opaque yellow during the colder winter months, changing to a bright orange during the breeding season. The puffins have wide and flat beaks, are large and triangular in shape, red, yellow and blue. Thanks to their bright colors they are called “sea parrots” or “sea clowns”. Their wings are very small and for flying they beat 400 times per minute and fly in the air up to 88 Km per hour, they are very skilled swimmers able to fish even at a depth of 60 meters. These birds live most of their life at sea, resting on the waves when they do not swim. In nature, these winged wonders live for about 20 years.
THE BREEDING OF THE PUFFIN
Atlantic puffins land on the coasts and islands of the North Atlantic to form breeding colonies every spring and summer. They often choose steep, rocky peaks to build their nests, which line up with feathers or grass. Using their beak and feet they are able to dig burrows in the ground that can be one meter deep. The females lay a single egg, and both parents incubate it in turn. When a chick hatches, its parents alternate feeding it carrying small fish to the nest until it becomes independent.
And you’re like, “Where can we find them?” You can find them here, in one of the islands off the coast of Pembrokeshire, in South Wales. The island is only 3 km2. Consisting mostly of volcanic rocks and surrounded by shady coves, offshore rocks and sheltered bays. The nature reserve is managed by “The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales” and is open from April to October and access is only allowed to 250 people per day. All these restrictions are necessary to preserve the island’s fantastic fauna heritage It is therefore not possible to book in advance, therefore there is the very famous law of “first come, first stay!”. My friend, my inseparable camera and I arrived here at the Lockley Lodge on a beautiful day in July, around 6.30 and, just think, there were already about fifty people in front of us!
…NOT JUST PUFFIN
ADDRESS: Lockley Lodge is located in Martin’s Haven, near Marloes in Pembrokeshire SA62 3BJ
WHEN TO GO: the island is open from April to October
HOW TO GET THERE:
- By car: B4327 from Haverfordwest to Dale. After Mullock Bridge (near Dale) take right hand turn signposted Marloes and Skomer Embarkation. Follow road through Marloes to Martin’s Haven car park.
- by train: Stations at Haverfordwest (12 miles/19km), Milford Haven (9 miles/14.5km) and Pembroke Dock (13 miles/21km)
- by bus: Service 400 Puffin Shuttle, from St David’s to Marloes Haven
- The daily tickets are purchased directly at the Lockley Lodge at a cost of 11 £ opens every day at 8 am, access is limited to 250 people per day so I recommend arriving very early in the morning.
- the departure, by boat, is from Martins Haven, at a cost of £11, to be paid directly on the boat. In peak season there are three times available. Since the trip lasts only about 15 min, even if you suffer from seasickness, I assure you it is worth it!
WHERE TO SLEEP: for those who want to spend the night on the island, there is also a hostel, but be careful, because it has only 16 places, so I recommend you to book in time. There is also an equipped kitchen in the hostel, but there is no Wi-Fi. For info: email@example.com
- bring cash, as there are no Atms on the island and it is not possible to pay transport with cards
- food and water since there are no refreshments
- recommended clothing: comfortable shoes and trekking clothing, a jacket in case of rain