where to see puffins scotland
Edinburgh’s Grassmarket is a bustling square in the heart of the city’s Old Town. Pictured here) Tentative puffin sketch, done while hanging over the edge of this huge precipice…you don’t believe that bit, do you? Adorable tuxedo-ed puffins actually live in Scotland! We are travelling to Scotland next week (7th August). And don’t get too hung up on just puffins. Scotland’s largest single colony is found on the island of St Kilda (136,000 pairs). What took me by surprise as I sat on the edge of the tour boat wasn’t the number of gannets rather than the acrobatics of the puffins. Auks are a kind of seabird of roughly small penguin shape, usually black and white. Other than its fascinating history, Shetland boasts one of the most diverse wildlife areas in the British Isles and it’s especially popular with seabirds, no doubt due to the fact that no spot on the islands is more than three miles from the sea. The Isle of Lunga. You might get a disinterested stare or two but they’re generally not scared of people which makes a visit to Lunga one of the highlights of any wildlife expedition in Scotland. Boat trips operate to see them. You might even get to like guillemots and other Scottish birds. I've done a lot of birdwatching on the west coast and have only occasionally seen puffins distantly with a … The birds often fly two hours to get to their hunting grounds. I had to look it up. St. Abbs Head in Berwickshire. And the thing to remember about guillemots, the puffin’s cousin, is that they are really jealous of their colourfully-beaked relative. For my next life, I’m definitely not coming back as a puffin. *Male and female puffins look more or less identical, (except to other puffins, presumably) but wear their clown gear only for the breeding season. Then they take off their orange makeup, hang up their fancy beaks, lock up the burrow for another year and head seawards too. This was while Stevenson was inspecting the Eilean Glas lighthouse on Scalpay, which is just off the larger island of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. Telephone 01620 890202. Getting to these islands is a bit of (make that a lot of) a trek and you’ll need to catch a ferry either from the mainland town of Oban to North Uist or the island village of Stein on Skye. The quaint East Lothian coastal town of North Berwick has a lot going for it. * Puffins lay a single egg only a little under one fifth of their own body weight. The village of Lochranza on the Isle of Arran is located in an exceptionally picturesque area on the north of the island. Capelin are a sprat-like North Atlantic fish. You won’t find any outside that time frame. Hi there! Their favourite food are sand eels, herring and capelin. While it’s almost impossible to name every cliff face on the mainland that puffins like to call home there are a few islands that are famed for their puffin colonies. These islands generally have the same geology (steep cliff faces) and location (remote and largely uninhabited) which explains why the birds choose to live there, although islands like Lunga are seeing increasing numbers of tourist groups. It’s a black guillemot. Staffa Tours for the Treshinish Isles: At Treshnish, spend time ashore with the huge colonies of Puffins and other sea birds, and then explore the geological splendour of Staffa’s hexagonal pillars and caves. Let’s talk about wing-loading factor. Telephone 01950 477384. Flightless, this penguin-like Northern Hemisphere bird was ruthlessly exploited for food and persecuted to extinction. They are also on the island of Noss in some numbers, while you can also patronise a puffin or two at Hermaness right at the very top of Shetland. There are lots more Scottish puffin locations. There are no areas on the west coast mainland where you will see puffins unfortunately. Puffins don’t live in parks. From there it’s a four-hour boat ride to Hirta across unpredictable seas but once at the enclosed village bay you’ll find yourself protected from the howling weather by a crescent of towering hills that encircle the old settlement on all sides. The centre also has a viewing platform with high-powered binoculars if you feel watching a TV screen is a bit too hands-off, but for the ultimate puffin-viewing experience you need to get out into the water which is where the tour boats come in. The conditions at Sumburgh Head are perfect for puffins and in the summer it’s one of the few places where you can get up close to them without scaring them away. That’s why puffins flap more or less constantly while flying. (Low wing loading factor.) Faraid Head in Sutherland. Tours can be booked online or at the centre and there are a few options varying in price and duration. There are other departure points in Scotland but those are the two most-used, although to be honest I recommend you fly as the last thing you want to be doing on a holiday is dealing with seasickness in the North Sea. Males and females look identical except the males are slightly larger. So, give them space, don’t get in the way and don’t fall off the edge. But no point in having wings that are really so small that you can only use them as flippers, otherwise you’d end up like the great auk – and we all know what happened to him. In front of them is a cliff, covered, stacked, thronged with guillemots (and razorbills), all braying and pecking and shuffling in the confined ledges. (Pictured here) Some places to see puffins in Scotland. At voyage end, before it was donated as a specimen to the Museum at Edinburgh University, it was given one last swim. Look for puffins in Scotland on steep grassy cliffs, or those parts of cliffs with scree or, in general, where it’s that bit greener (indicating soil rather than bare rock). So, auks and puffins have a high wing-loading factor – little wings useful for swimming but you have to work them hard to get airborne. If I told you I could show you what are probably Scotland’s most northerly pair of breeding yellow wagtails you’d probably feign vague but polite interest. Isle of Staffa wildlife. Shetland is also extremely puffinized. The fact that you’ve spotted a few puffins will give you moderate bragging rights when you go back into the lounge, though not as much as casually remarking that you’d seen dolphin or killer whale. The last encounter with a breeding pair was in 1844 on Eldey, off south-west Iceland. Map of popular locations to see puffins in Scotland. Please stop doing a plug for other auks in general and tell me where in Scotland I should go? The Shiants out in the Minch and also the Treshnish Isles are well known. One other point about puffins. West Coast Tours for the Treshinish Isles: Over two hours will be spent on Lunga where you can visit the puffin colony, then time on Staffa and two hours on Iona to explore and seek out the rare corncrake. But wait…. As Staffa is a small island out at sea, its wildlife population is dominated by seabirds. I think I’ve cropped out the razorbills.) You’ll either love this or just want to slap the author. Favourite nesting site can be found at; Bass Rock, St. Abbs Head, Duncansby Head, Faraid Head, Lunga, St. Kilda and Sumburgh Head. Eyemouth and St Abbs are signposted from the main A1. While the majority of Scotland’s puffin population are found offshore on remote islands there are several areas on the mainland where you’ll be able to see them. I’m Craig, I live in Edinburgh and I’m obsessed with tourist attractions. 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