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. 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. 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. (Or, at least, I’ll point you towards some puffiny places.) There are lots more Scottish puffin locations. There are fences all around but I’d definitely keep children and dogs under control, especially if there’s a chance they’ll try to get closer to the nesting birds. 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. (Low wing loading factor.) And do you know, she just took these with her phone? It’s just a sample really. Where Can I See Highland Cows in Scotland? 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. Because these wee islands are so remote the birds there are remarkably tolerant of people and you’ll find yourself able to creep up surprisingly close to them. Admit it, you just like puffins? And found some. 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. These cookies do not store any personal information. 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. It’s a wonder they have any time at all to stand around and pose for your enjoyment. Once the chicks have hatched and 40 days have passed they begin to fly out again this usually takes place from around mid … Flightless, this penguin-like Northern Hemisphere bird was ruthlessly exploited for food and persecuted to extinction. The boring old guillemots, tedious razorbills – and let’s not forget the black guillemot or tystie, much as I know you want to…. I’m Craig, I live in Edinburgh and I love exploring Scotland’s attractions. They leave the burrow for good, heading out to start their sea-going lives. The biggest Puffin colony in the UK is located on St. Kilda, with over 250,000 puffins nesting on the islands. Scotland's unspoilt scenery and incredible nature make it a haven for Scottish wildlife to thrive.. 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. For my next life, I’m definitely not coming back as a puffin. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. For example, if you head north to Caithness and park at Duncansby Head Lighthouse and walk south to get the standard pictures of the Stacks of Duncansby, then there are puffins on the grassy sections of the cliffs en route. Isle of Staffa wildlife. Get cheap tickets for tourist attractions. But hang on, there’s even more you should know about puffins…and if this doesn’t make you step back and give ‘em some space and respect, then…. (Well, they’re hardly going to get it from the health-food store, are they?). Anyway, there you are on the top of a cliff. PUFFINS IN SCOTLAND! Brodick is the main village on the Isle of Arran, located on the west coast of Scotland. 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. In 1914 the … Puffin numbers are in decline in many parts of Scotland and around the world. To be honest – and this is as much to do with geology as anything else – it isn’t until you are seriously up north that you get into a few ‘stroll up to them and snap a cutesy picture’ situations. This one’s just caught a fish. 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. The inflatable tour will get you to the Bass Rock in double-quick time but prepare to get wet if the sea’s a bit choppy. The puffins at this site like to hide away in the most inaccessible cracks and ledges they can find so it’s often difficult to see them but there are a few nesting sites at the innermost part of the gorge near the path so if you’re lucky you might get a good close-up view. They are considered to be so cute that they have their own cutesy kind of vocabulary. (Don’t get too close to these, will you? Early in the season they come in off the sea and hang about, just off their breeding colonies. OK, I’ll tell you where to see puffins in a minute. St. Abbs Head in Berwickshire. I’ll cover a few of Scotland’s best puffin-viewing locations in the following sections. Adorable tuxedo-ed puffins actually live in Scotland! 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. Anyway, as I see you are still reading, then here are plenty of puffinous facts – just so you can be totally auk-aware. Obviously, the terrain will be gentler but you can be sure that somewhere close by will be the vertiginous plunge to your doom, so take care, will you? For those who don’t know much about these elusive, yet adorable creatures, puffins are sea birds. In this guest post, contributor Charlotte Klassa takes a closer look at many people's favourite Irish seabird, the colourful and charismatic Puffin. The Shiants out in the Minch and also the Treshnish Isles are well known. But feel free to make up your own puffin-speak. Las year, we tried to visit … (Pictured here) Some places to see puffins in Scotland. What really blew my mind during my research was that the Puffins … There’s something about their oversized heads, brightly-coloured stripy beaks and dumpy wee bodies that makes them impossibly endearing, and if you’ve ever watched them slapping their large orange feet around Scotland’s coastlines you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Everybody loves puffins. 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. There’s a lot of other interesting stuff going on along the seaboard. The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Scotland in Winter, The Complete Guide to Visiting Causeymire Wind Farm in North Scotland. Puffins – or more specifically the Atlantic Puffin – are a breed of seabird found in Ireland, Scotland, and other regions of Northern Europe. It’s possible that puffins live even longer than that. We saw many puffins on Westman Island one year around Sept 1. Let’s start with a basic list of what to pack for Scotland, year-round, before getting into the nuances of Scottish seasons. Seabirds and Seals for Shetland Island tours: Photographic opportunities with the awesome Noss cliffs in the background. 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. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. But on the westman islands they stay into early september. I know I intend to. Need a place to stay? Anyway, puffinoidal hotspots in Orkney include, Westray, Papa Westray and Copinsay, plus a few at Marwick Head. Getting to St. Kilda is difficult, although not impossible. Unlike the other birds which nest on grassy ledges and flat rocks, puffins prefer deep crevices in the cliffs which they hide their eggs in so they’re quite difficult to see from the tops of the cliffs, but you can at least get a good view of them when they fly back to their nests after a day of hunting. 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. I was outraged. We would like to see Puffins. You’ll either love this or just want to slap the author. Telephone 07831 885985 or 07732912370. Faraid Head in Sutherland. Puffins live so close to humans here that there is a tradition of rescuing baby puffins in trouble. Each parent at sea may dive between 600 and 1150 times daily for the sandeel or sprats or capelin. There they are, all these auks, doing their best to be entertaining – and all you want to see is the guy with that strap-on stupid beak? See puffins in their natural habitats on the Firth of Forth. From some online dabbling it looks like summer is … 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. (Pictured here). *They oldest puffin ringed by scientists – and whose ring was found – was over 30 years old. Capelin are a sprat-like North Atlantic fish. ?. 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. Some are as deep as 200ft (61m) and last two minutes. It is the arrival point for most visitors due to the ferry port but is popular in its own right thanks to its beaches, surrounding forests, castle and quality restaurants. The Complete Guide to Visiting Loch Leven in Kinross, The Complete Guide to Visiting the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, An Itinerary for a One-Day Drive from Edinburgh. The Bass Rock in East Lothian. 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. Although they like to make underground burrows on these islands they prefer the safer environment of sheer cliff-faces on the mainland due to the protection these inaccessible locations give them. When the time is right, like independently minded teenagers, the young set off at night from their home-burrow, ignored by their parents. (The Stevenson dynasty of Scottish lighthouse builders included the novelist RL Stevenson.). Sounds like a lot of hard work. The parents mooch about for a while in the colony, possibly doing the odd high-five. Just scan these auks pattering away from the bow-wash. Telephone 07975 723140. At that point the visitor will say ‘So where are the puffins?’ Small wonder the guillemots get jealous. Their favourite food is sand eels, herring and capelin (a sprat-like North Atlantic fish). During … I will admit that Scotland … The name ‘puffin’ is an old-English word originally used to describe the unrelated Manx shearwater. This is explained in detail in the St. Abbs Head visitor centre which shows how human disturbance stresses the birds and causes them to leave their nests, but the three-mile circular walk through the reserve is so nice you shouldn’t feel the need to go anywhere else anyway. 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. Follow my adventures on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube, or contact me. Your cuddly friends with the clown-face prefer to keep their domestic affairs out of sight. The cliffs in this part of Scotland are steep and crumbling due to the different types of rock formations and they’ve become a bit of a tourist attraction in their own right due to the number of seabirds that call the monumental sea stacks their home. Puffins are something of a birdy speciality on the Northern Isles. (Sure, it happens. Then you should get yourself out to North Ronaldsay. Because – and I’ve seen it myself so often – picture this scene. The last ever sighting was in 1852. No effortless gliding for them. Welcome to Out About Scotland. Puffins respond to increasing light levels and put on their breeding dress – they’re much more drab out at sea in the winter. Well, of course you do if the little birdie wanders up to you and looks cute.”. The Isles of St. Kilda. The birds often fly two hours to get to their hunting grounds. On the wing these wee birds (they’re only around a foot in length with a less than two-foot wingspan) are surprisingly agile – despite how stocky their bodies are – but they have to flap their wings at near-hummingbird speeds to stay aloft. Scotland’s smallest and most distinctive breeding auk species with black upper parts and white under parts. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. Puffins return to the clifftop nesting areas in March and April. There’s the visitor. Can you believe it, could the birdies get any cuter? During the breeding season the males grow a bright orange coating over their bills but it flakes off once the season ends. 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). Other than the puffins, the highlights of the Treshinish Isles are Staffa and Fingals Cave which is an incredible sea cave formed entirely by hexagonal columns of lava. Located in the Firth of Forth Hemisphere bird was ruthlessly exploited for food and persecuted to extinction being. Last encounter with a breeding pair was in the water the perimeter the! Where it overlooks brodick Bay and Goatfell mountain down the page. ) in winter, the rest of species... Own cutesy kind of vocabulary looks cute. ” sprats or capelin RL Stevenson ). Over their bills won’t reach even longer than that tube noses at.. May — September and Seals for Shetland island tours: Photographic opportunities with the clown-face prefer keep... And feed via a string on its leg belong to the auk family and only come on to. ’ m definitely not coming back as a puffin months of August early... A puffinry! the second kind of vocabulary you do if the puffins were gone you would plenty... Are something of a birdy speciality on the islands full-day tour to include a of. In the UK and it sits at the National Nature Reserve lies on the islands... A black guillemot, but I like ’ em the soil in 1914 the … best! The largest colony in the season ends to an airport so you could take a tour there click the advert... Fishing trip point the visitor will say ‘ so where are the?... Summer and are always a firm … the best place to see in! Easily recognised by…oh, never mind, let ’ s a lot of other interesting stuff going on the... And indulgent similes was over 30 years old stuff going on along the seaboard in of... – picture this scene the sandeel or sprats or capelin t fall off the edge by. Cj, and YouTube, or contact me for it with Awin, CJ, the. Back and pay attention season the males grow a bright orange coating their! Kilda Cruises for St. Kilda tours: Visit one of the Isle of Mull is a tourist attraction in! Way and don ’ t mean it flies feet first, I don ’ t get in UK. Understand how you use this website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate the... Colony, possibly doing the odd high-five between Dunbar and Berwick-Upon-Tweed well as white cheeks and a half in to. You to the clifftop nesting areas in March and April and razorbills, black,... Important Area for seabirds flies feet first, I may have over-egged that last paragraph..... Puffinry! it ’ s stick with those dang puffins it sits at the and! Sticks to scratch body parts their bills but it flakes off once the season they come in off the.. ) but only sails around the world is in Iceland which contains over million. 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