Top
  >  Europe   >  Skomer Island and the Puffins
puffin in Skomer island

One day a friend, suddenly catching me, asks me: “Hey, are we going to see the “Puffin” on the Skomer Island?”

I begin to inform myself, since until that moment I did not even know about the existence of the island, and I realize that it is a natural paradise, one of the most important places in Europe for the nesting of birds, in particular the Puffin.

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.

Skomer island

Skomer island

puffin in Skomer island

puffin

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.

SKOMER ISLAND

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!

After a long wait, we were assigned a “boat” with departure at 10.30 and return scheduled for 15.30. The duration of the trip is about fifteen minutes and already from the boat you are enchanted by the amount of birds that fly over our heads and the amount of black and white dots present on the island. Upon arrival, after having walked more than 80 steps from the point where our boat left us, we are greeted by volunteers, who have illustrated some rules. The most important is not to leave the marked paths, as the nests are close to the edge and the ground, due to the weight of the people, could collapse and damage, consequently, the eggs. In my opinion, the best time to see Puffin is from May to mid-July.
Puffin in Skomer island

puffin detail

puffin, Skomer island

puffin

THE WICK

After explaining the guide, we begin to walk on the indicated path. Since on the island you can reach many viewpoints, what I absolutely recommend not to miss is the ” the wick “, where the Puffin walk 5 cm away from you, and for me, who love photography, it was a unique moment, where I could really indulge.

…NOT JUST PUFFIN

The hours on the island have passed too fast, walking along the path, immersed in this natural paradise where I took dozens of photos. Before our return, we also managed to see the grey seals: another spectacle that this island offers. Then reluctantly came the time to return, but the moments that gave us this excursion were unique and extraordinary. Magic!

LOGISTICS

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

TICKETS:

  • 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: islands@welshwildlife.org

TIPS:

  • 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

post a comment