Also known as "Clown of the Sea" and "Sea Parrots" Puffins are one of the UK's favourite sea birds. With their comical appearance and funny little walk it's no wonder they're so endearing.
As you'd expect you'll generally find them around the coast of UK and if you want to go and visit them, just have a look for a breeding colony. We've seen them on Lunga (in the Treshnish Isles) and the Isle of May (just off the coast of Fife) It might just be cause the weather was so good when I visited but Lunga is definitely my favourite place with stunning landscapes as a backdrop for creative puffin images.
You can get some great close encounters as they relish human contact.
Whilst we start the short walk to Harp Rock (located at the end of the island) they come flying in to check us out. Why? Well, we're a great deterrent for bigger birds such as Black Backed Gulls, Bonxies, and Ravens. The more (respectful) humans there are, the less danger they present. I spent a glorious hot day on Lunga surrounded by Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, and Shags - it was heaven and two hours was not enough!
Puffins are migratory birds and every year begin their journey back to our shores to start their breeding season. Whilst they're not here they spend the rest of their life at sea, which sounds pretty hard going if you ask me! They're ground nesting, using new burrows or taking up residence in an old Rabbit warren. This is one of the reasons you need to be careful when visiting them by watching where you walk - you don't want to make their home collapse!
Each year they have one Puffling (yes!) who stays underground until it's ready to fledge, which they normally do during the night to protect themselves from predators. They'll migrate to the North Atlantic and stay there for a few years before starting the journey back to their breeding grounds and the cycle continues.
On a more serious note Puffins are in danger. There's many reasons for this; Affected by climate change they're having to travel further for lower quality food. They're also the target of ground dwelling predators so not only do they have a long journey to get here, the likes of Mink and Rats finding their way to the islands puts them and their Pufflings in trouble.
The numbers of Puffins on the Farne Islands has reduced by 12% since 2013, with one island showing a decrease of 42%. Quite shocking statistics for one of our favourite birds, you can read more details on the recent studies here at Puffin Decline.
What can you do?
If you want to find out more about "Project Puffin" being run by the RSPB please click on the link.