Puffins

Mingulay, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.  Day 16 , 14th July.

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On Mingulay I also got the opportunity to photograph puffins.  Most photographs of puffins you will see show them sitting on the ground.  In some places they will come quite close to you.  Photographing them in the air is much harder because they are small and surprisingly quick.

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I was also expecting to see them in Iceland but they had gone by the time I go there.  It all depends on their seasonal supply of sand eels.

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Not everything is easy in a puffin’s life.  This is a skua, a predator.

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These are Atlantic Puffins.  There are also two other species of puffin in the Pacific, as well as a closely related species the Rhinoceros Auklet.  They are also related to the extinct Giant Auk.

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Their nesting area is very close to the old village.  They would definitely have been a food source for the islanders, both them and their eggs, though perhaps they chose a more remote location when the villagers were still there.

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Here they nest in burrows in the ground, which requires a remote island, free I would think of feral cats.  In other places they may nest in cliffs.

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16 comments on “Puffins

  1. leecleland says:

    These are fantastic shots, I wanted to say which one was my favourite but then the further I looked at the post the closer up you got and then there were too many I really liked. They are such a strange looking bird and is their eye a triangle or is it large and what I’m seeing are membranes across it? I had hoped to see them but in Sept it’s too late.

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    • Murray Foote says:

      I was lucky to see them in Mingulay. I was expecting lots of them in Iceland but they’d all gone by then.

      Their eye is round. There is a red circle around it and then a black triangle around that. You can see this if you click on one of the closer images for a larger view.

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  2. Ian Beattie says:

    Great shots as usual Murray, what camera gear did you take with you? We’re spending 10 days in the highlands in August and I was going to try and keep it to a minimum but seeing some of your shots I’m sorely tempted to take a lot more. Your trip will be a great help with planning ours so thanks, just wish we had more time 😦

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    • Murray Foote says:

      I had a D800 and a D3s. I took a 300mm f2.8 mainly for wildlife in Spitsbergen and Greenland. I took the shots of the puffins with that. I also had a 14-24mm, 24mm PC-E, 50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.4 and 180mm. I wasn’t travelling light. The 24mm f3.5 PC-E was mainly for Iceland; if I hadn’t taken that I would have had a 105mm f2. I also had a Fujifim X100s.

      I took 5700 shots in Scotland, though that includes a fair amount of exposure bracketing, probably uneven by lens. 26% were with the 14-24, 0% with the 24mm, none with the 50mm, 17% with the 85mm, 8% with the 180mm, 10% with the 300mm and 39% with the X100s. Of course, your proportions may prove quite different.

      Send me an email if you want some info on the places I stayed.

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  3. georgemaciver says:

    Ah puffins, I’ve scheduled them in for this year. Some terrific photos there 🙂

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  4. The finest collection of puffin photos I’ve ever seen – cf national geographic. fascinating birds, they have so many features that resemble human beings I think, particularly the expressions on their faces – oddly reminiscent of people I know. maybe that’s a compliment . great bird shots

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  5. […] stray puffin deperately tries to escape the proximity of the ship.  Just as well I saw lots in Scotland because by the time I got to Iceland, the season was too late and they were nowhere to be […]

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  6. […] there and took no photographs.  I didn’t see a puffin in Iceland; just as well I’d got lots of photographs at Mingulay over a month […]

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  7. Gorgeous photos! Thanks so much for directing me to this post. I plan to visit England again, so I must add a visit to Scotland to my plans to see the puffins. 🙂

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