It’s possible that puffins live even longer than that. The Arran Coastal Way is a circular cycling and walking route around the perimeter of the Isle of Arran on Scotland’s west coast. It’s an incredibly atmospheric place that really comes alive in the summer months thanks to the unusual mix of both Atlantic and Arctic animal species that thrive in the dense forests of seaweed growing close to the shoreline. Please stop doing a plug for other auks in general and tell me where in Scotland I should go? Expect a full-day tour to include a maximum of two hours on Lunga depending on the weather conditions. Anyway, back in puffin world, yes, keep an eye on auks on the water. When the time is right, like independently minded teenagers, the young set off at night from their home-burrow, ignored by their parents. Getting to St. Kilda is difficult, although not impossible. See puffins in their natural habitats on the Firth of Forth. 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. This easy-going trail rewards visitors with stunning views at every section of its 65-mile length and there are plenty of opportunities to deviate onto nearby attractions along the way. Puffin numbers are in decline in many parts of Scotland and around the world. The forests of Arran offer some of the best mountain biking routes of any of the west-coast islands and any cycle ride is almost guaranteed to include sightings of Arran’s famed red squirrels. But now that I’ve mentioned puffins I see you’re already reaching for the camera and making drooly noises. According to the Scottish Seabird Centre, puffins beat their wings up to four hundred times per minute which means they need to eat lots of fish for energy, so luckily for them their over-sized bills can hold up to a dozen at a time. Most importantly, though you may hear puffins give a kind of deep yet nervous laugh, this does not give them a sense of humour. St. Abbs Head in Berwickshire. There are lots more Scottish puffin locations. ?. Adults have a distinctive rainbow coloured deep bill as well as white cheeks and a … Let’s talk about wing-loading factor. The Atlantic Puffin is a … These are pelagic seabirds that feed primarily by diving in the water. St. Kilda, Scotland. *They oldest puffin ringed by scientists – and whose ring was found – was over 30 years old. The Real Mary King’s Close is a tourist attraction located in the middle of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile. For Staffa, the Isle of Mull is a good base to stay. You can take a three island seabird safari which departs from North Berwick and visits the Lamb, Craigleith and Bass Rock islands, you can take a private charter on a rigid inflatable, or you can book yourself onto a Bass Rock landing experience. Puffins are something of a birdy speciality on the Northern Isles. Shetland is also extremely puffinized. Incidentally, the puffin pics here were taken on the island of Staffa. Favourite nesting site can be found at; Bass Rock, St. Abbs Head, Duncansby Head, Faraid Head, Lunga, St. Kilda and Sumburgh Head. And don’t get too hung up on just puffins. When they said tools, obviously they didn’t mean wee sets of spanners or whatever. 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. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. I know I intend to. Even so, from the tops of the surrounding cliffs you’ll get amazing views of the hundreds of seabirds that call the coastline their home and you’ll frequently see puffins amongst the guillemots and gulls noisily screeching overhead. The Shetland Islands lie 190 miles north of the Scottish mainland so they’re quite close to Scandanavia, and many of the islanders claim to have as much in common with Norway as they do with Scotland. For my next life, I’m definitely not coming back as a puffin. … Shetland Seabird Tours for the Shetland Islands: The ultimate Shetland wildlife experience and an unrivalled wildlife spectacle offering close seabird & seal encounters with the awesome Noss ‘seabird city’ backdrop. Even so, life must have been terribly difficult as the rough seas made fishing almost impossible and their only other source of protein was the seabirds that nested on the cliffs – most notably puffins which were easily caught with long poles and nets. The egg (which weighs one-fifth of the adult’s body weight when laid) is incubated for around forty days. I will admit that Scotland … To get there follow the A838 in Sutherland towards Durness and then continue towards the village of Balnakeil which ends abruptly at the start of a beach with a partially sand-covered road winding its way towards the remnants of a 1950s radar station. If you’d like to see them up close for yourself your best bet is to visit one of the offshore island colonies (though there are plenty of mainland coastal colonies as well) that have regular tours or head 27 miles east of Edinburgh to see them in the Firth of Forth like I did. 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. Flightless, this penguin-like Northern Hemisphere bird was ruthlessly exploited for food and persecuted to extinction. The Isle of Lunga. I was outraged. The most important thing to remember during your potentially rewarding puffinesque encounters is that while you might be thrilled to see them, the feeling is unlikely to be reciprocated, clown outfit or not. Just scan these auks pattering away from the bow-wash. I know I have. Can anybody tell us where we should go, and if they are still in Scotland in August. This part of Scotland’s coastline is wild and rugged, formed an age ago by active volcanos which left behind a magnificent stretch of sheer cliffs and offshore sea stacks. But which month is the best to visit? Around most of the coastline rugged cliffs act as home to thousands of pairs of birds and in the summer months there are fantastic seabird-spotting opportunities with over a million of them (one-tenth of Britain’s total seabird population) swooping across the islands. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. (Don’t get too close to these, will you? You might even get to like guillemots and other Scottish birds. The Treshinish Isles are a real wildlife-lovers paradise and in addition to the puffins you’ll frequently see porpoises, dolphins and basking sharks as well as the occasional minke whale. What odd, but beautiful creatures. Telephone 01586 552319. As with elsewhere in Sutherland, the puffins come ashore to breed in late April and usually stay till late August so if you’ve come to this part of the country to do a summer tour of the North Coast 500 you might as well take the short detour to Faraid Head to say hello to them. Shetland Explorer Tours for the Shetland Islands: Head to Sumburgh, the southernmost point of Shetland to see the Puffins which are guaranteed to be seen in May, June and July. Being a puffin in Scotland is probably a deadly serious business, what with the sandeel shortages and all that burrowing playing havoc with the plumage in the breeding season. In Iceland, where they still hunt puffins (no comment necessary), they splash orange paint on the rocks and and wear orange clothes as puffins are attracted to orange. Puffins are sea birds from the Auk family and only come on land to breed. The boring old guillemots, tedious razorbills – and let’s not forget the black guillemot or tystie, much as I know you want to…. “You think you know what a puffin looks like? Although the Duncansby Stacks are the highlight of a visit (they’re absolutely enormous) if you’ve gone there to look for puffins you might want to have a good look at the deep gorge called the Geo of Sclaites that lies between the stacks and the lighthouse. To be honest I’d probably recommend Faraid Head for a visit even if there weren’t any puffins as the view across Balnakeil Bay is spectacular. Horned puffins dig burrows up to three feet underground. The feet stick out like brake-lights. *They don’t breed until they are at least four, sometimes older and very often return to the site where they were born. If you want to find out more about the Scottish Seabird Centre, the Bass Rock and other attractions in this part of the country check out my guide to The Best Places to Visit in East Lothian. We would like to see Puffins. 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). The islands of St. Kilda which lie around one hundred miles west of the Scottish mainland were once a prime puffin hunting ground as the fatty meat was a prized source of food. So, give them space, don’t get in the way and don’t fall off the edge. Legal: Outaboutscotland.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk. I’ll cover a few of Scotland’s best puffin-viewing locations in the following sections. Unlike their cousins, the guillemots and razorbills, who positively entice their chicks to leave the nesting ledge, puffins are much more wings-off about their youngsters. It’s a black guillemot. Popular sites for wildlife tours include Foula, Noss and Hermaness where you can see vast flocks of gannets, arctic terns and skuas and Sumburgh Head which is the site of one of the world’s biggest puffin colonies. You can find flights to the Shetland Islands on Skyscanner. Homepage » Articles » Outdoors & Nature. Their favourite food is sand eels, herring and capelin (a sprat-like North Atlantic fish). Visitors to the Skelligs World Heritage site in August and September often ask “Where have all the puffins gone?” Skellig Michael is home to thousands of Atlantic puffins, at least for part of the … Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. This is one of the remotest parts of the Scottish mainland but it gets quite busy due to the tourist trap attractions at the John O’ Groat’s visitor centre, although the picture-postcard scenery more than makes up for it. 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. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. This means that they live almost the entire year on … Approximately 47 different bird species can be spotted at various times of the year on Lunga but if you want to see the puffins the best time to visit is from mid-April to early August when they land to raise their chicks. In 1914 the … Keen on birds? At that point the visitor will say ‘So where are the puffins?’ Small wonder the guillemots get jealous. 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. (Pictured below) This is not a puffin. In addition to the cute shops and cafés of the old fishing port there’s Tantallon Castle and Berwick Law (two of the counties top attractions) in the immediate area as well as pristine stretches of golden beach to the east and west. The general rule is that if it is an island that is isolated and sometimes hard to get to, then the chances are it’ll have huge numbers of puffins. I started searching for how to get there and I was looking for Oban Boat trips, Boat trips from Oban, and Isle of Mull tours. I got some of these statistics from a book called The Seabird’s Cry, by Adam Nicholson. The Atlantic Puffin (which are the Puffins UK species) live on islands and coasts along Scotland and make colonies high up in the cliffs. When I was researching activities to do in Scotland, I came across a tour to the Treshnish Isles to see the Puffins … Puffins in north-west Scotland. We're Open. Duncansby Head is located in the far north of Scotland a few miles around the coastline from John O’ Groats. While puffin colonies are located all around Iceland, there are a few places where your chances of catching the bird are more likely than others, as shown on the map. Then the great auk was gone for ever. The last encounter with a breeding pair was in 1844 on Eldey, off south-west Iceland. Britain’s most remote corner may take some getting to, but with almost 184,000 puffin pairs, it's also one of the best places to see puffins in the whole of the British Isles. Their favourite food are sand eels, herring and capelin. In this guest post, contributor Charlotte Klassa takes a closer look at many people's favourite Irish seabird, the colourful and charismatic Puffin. The only way to get to Lunga is via one of the organised tours and you’ll have to stick to their strict time limits as the time spent on the island is kept to a minimum in order to cause as little disruption to the birds as possible. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Ironically, one of the first results I found for it showed it in a small pack, being sold as dog-food. (Pictured here) Some places to see puffins in Scotland. Then they get down to the serious business of decorating their burrows with a single large egg. The Isles of St. Kilda. Brodick lies halfway along the eastern side of the island where it overlooks Brodick Bay and Goatfell mountain. So, to conclude, I’d say it should be straightforward to nail your puffins, so long as you come between, say, April – but not too early – and August. Then it’s round and into the sunny Moray Firth, where there are also a few at Troup Head (RSPB Reserve and boyhood haunt) though everyone associates this place with gannets these days. The island can be visited between April to 30th September… Bass Rock, if you’re unaware of it, is a huge outcrop lying a mile or so off the shoreline of North Berwick in East Lothian which has frequent sightseeing tours around it courtesy of the Scottish Seabird Centre. Although Scotland is famed for its puffins the largest colony in the world is in Iceland which contains over four million birds. St Kilda is an archipelago 41 miles west of its nearest neighbour, the Outer Hebridean isle of Benbecula, and it is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Nature Reserve. Can you believe it, could the birdies get any cuter? Puffins are any of three species of small alcids in the bird genus Fratercula with a brightly colored beak during the breeding season. Fulmars float by superciliously looking down their tube noses at you. These birds effortlessly zip through the air at speeds that seem impossible with their stubby wings and they’re able to dive into the sea at a breakneck velocity. Isle of Staffa wildlife. This is a small volcanic plug of rock that has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest thanks to its abundant plant life – some of which are endangered – as well as the surprising amount of wildlife that call the island their home including grey seals, guillemots, storm-petrels and of course, puffins. 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