It’s Puffin season on Skomer Island.
The season lasts from April to the end of July roughly, and during that time Skomer Island is home to one of the largest populations of Puffins in the world. The Puffins come to Skomer to breed. Skomer Island is an ideal place for them as there are no land predators here, so the pufflings can be hatched and tended to in relative safety. May and early June, are for me, the best times to visit Skomer as this is the time when all the bluebells are out, turning the island into a carpet of blue-it is truly magical at this time.
The Comical Puffin on Skomer Island
It’s an honour to share space with a Puffin, as they do prefer sea to land-spending seven to eight months out at sea, coming to land only to breed. They are an ‘amber’ listed species meaning they are potentially under threat of extinction. In April, when the birds return, they will spend some time ‘rafting’ on the sea, checking out the island to ensure it is safe to return, and then slowly the birds will start to arrive. When a breeding pair return to Skomer, they return to the same burrow every year-they set about cleaning it to ensure they have a fresh nest for their new egg. Any remnants of the old nest or any debris that has found its’ way inside during the winter is cleared away. Puffin incubation of an egg lasts for roughly 40 days and it is roughly another 40 days before a ‘puffling’ (baby puffin) ventures from the burrow and see the outside world for the first time.
Puffins can dive to depths of 200 feet when fishing, they swim by flapping their wings much like how they fly. When flying they flap their wings 400 times a minute and can reach speeds of 55 miles per hour. They are pretty comical when attempting to get airborne from the sea, and do look a little ungainly but this just adds to their appeal.
To visit Skomer to see the Puffins, you need to tale a ferry from Martins Haven.
For information on a day trip to Skomer click here