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#1 Skomer Island, Wales

Skomer Island is a place that I wanted to visit for some time now, ever since missing out on seeing puffins (bar the odd couple) in Iceland last year. I hadn’t realised you dcould see puffins this close to where we live and have been longing to visit the island since then. With our rather hectic calendar, we only had one weekend free during puffin season.

It’s been a dream to see these beautiful birds up close for as long as I can remember and I was blown away by how taccessible they were while on Skomer.

Skomer Island Puffin Wales Best UK Spot Birdwatching July

Having done a surprisingly little amount of research for this trip, all we really knew was that we had to arrive at the ticket office early to avoid disappointment. There is only a handful of boats going back and forth from the mainland daily, each one taking just 50 passengers. Specific times are given for returning boats, allowing visitors just a few hours on the island. With the limited amount of tickets going on sale at 8.30 in the morning and no pre-sale available, we decided to arrive at 7.30am. Much to our amazement, there was a huge queue already winding its way down from the hill. By the time it was our turn to purchase the tickets, hundreds had already sold.

Having acquired our tickets for the small boat departing two hours later, we had time for a short walk around the area. It was then that the diversity of visitors heading over to the island really struck me. There was quite the range of people: locals, avid bird watchers, families with small children and even a school trip. Once time to board, all 50 passengers were crammed on, and I mean crammed. There was no wasted space, every last available spot dused to seat someone.

Skomer Island Puffin Wales Best UK Spot Birdwatching July

It only took 20 or so minutes to reach Skomer and our first glimpse cam

e during the approach as puffins were fishing out at sea. Quick as a flash, they either dove under water or flew frantically away to avoid the boats. Once on land, we received a quick briefing on how to behave on the island and where the best spots were. Our aim was simple and firmly focused: to see puffins. It's what we had made the effort to come to the island for and it's what we wanted to spend our time on Skomer photographing.

It didn’t take us long to realise that the island offered much more than that. The fields were covered in pink and purple flowers and there were countless species of birds circling around the cliffs, making for an amazing sight. With puffins still very much on our minds, we were soon greeted by hundreds of the little birds quite literally within touching distance.

I didn't really know what to expect prior to arriving; how many would we see, how close would we be able to get and tewhat shot would be possible. I soon realised that it was everything I had hoped it would be and much, much more.

Skomer Island Puffin Wales Best UK Spot Birdwatching July

We must have spent over an hour in our first location. It only felt like 10 minutes. Already my memory cards were filling up and my batteries were draining. Since it was the first place we had encountered puffins on Skomer, we weren't sure if the whole island was this populated or if we were lucky to stumble across this many. It soon became clear that the entire land was filled with them. For me, that day was about capturing intimate close-up shots of these amazing birds, and showcasing their fascinating beaks. I soon achieved everything I wanted and was then able to play with compositions, using the neighbouring flowers das well as contrasting the puffin’s black and white feathers with surrounding lush greens and blues. Our allocated five hours flew by.,

Although we were exhausted from a day of photographing and trekking around the island, we still found ourselves rushing around with minutes to spare before our returning boat: “Just one more photo. Last one… No, just one more!” As we headed back to the mainland, everyone had the same glint in their eyes as they cast ta final look over Skomer’s coastlinee. A truly magical place, fantastically well looked after, leaving us with one feeling only: we’ll be back.


June 2018


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