Puffin Behaviour

Filed in In the Press, Workshops on May.09, 2011

Puffins have to be one of those birds you never tier of seeing, their enduring faces made up like a clown have a place in everyone’s hearts.  They have been a firm favourite of mine from childhood where I’d go on organised field trips from school and the YOC –  Young Ornithologists Club, setting off on what seemed a real adventure at the time, to places were they live and nest during those few short months that they are a shore.

Animal behaviour has always fascinated me, I still have my first book covering the subject which I was brought as a Christmas present, such was my interest- The Animal World by Maurice & Robert Burton.  I was not the greatest reader at that age but I was glued to this book, as getting close to nature and watching it was a major thing I did when growing up. I can remember those first encounters with the Puffins I had, armed with a massive pair of binoculars and my faithful bird guide called “Birds” – by John Andrews, a book that forms part of my profile images, matching the birds to the photographs was something I found great pleasure in.

By learning to get close to wildlife without disturbing the life of the animal, almost forgetting the outside world, and becoming part of the animal I was getting close to or watching, I could understand the animal better, gaining many skills by observing their behaviours at the same time giving the subject complete respect which allowed me a private window into their personal and private lives.

Skomer is a firm favourite of mine and having already spent several days there this year, the clowns of the sea are back in great numbers once more returning back to their old burrows.  Their colourful beak and orange legs catch your eye upon first seeing these comical birds that seem very clumsy on land.  The island is riddled with holes that are home to tens of thousands of Rabbits, Manx shearwaters and Puffins.  What is truly amazing about this beautiful bird is that the birds live all winter out in the Atlantic ocean, out of sight of land, but every spring they return ashore to breed and raise their young before heading back out to sea in late July, August, so behind the gentle looking faces hides a tough and hardy bird that has to be respected for the way it lives its unique life.

Their affection towards each other is beautiful to witness, bonding, kissing bills all affirming their bond with each other. I watched as several males would gather,calling and stretching their necks in an display towards the female also warning other males. Parading around,showing off and watching each other,waiting for the first movement from an opposing male, seconds later two males would be locked together,twisting and turning, forcing the other to submit his advances towards the female. I managed to capture that behaviour by watching, looking and feeling the tensoin grow between these males.

Within my own wildlife photography I spend alot of time watching nature, listening and watching for signs,trying to build a picture of whats happening the best way I can.  The art of Photography for me is a means to capturing those special encounters I have worked hard to achieve or see , which in turn make for a more well balanced image and account of that subjects behaviour and mannerisms within the wild.

So while I was away in Texel a few of my images made the press and different papers either online in a physical capacity last week, the Sun and the Scottish Sun,the Independent and the Mail. I received many emails on my Blackberry and it seemed to be going crazy while on vibrate mode as I was in Texel, people wishing me will and letting me know that the Puffins had made the papers. 

All of which was really good.  Its great to see your work in print so that people from all backgrounds can see the beautiful world of nature that’s everywhere and in this case it was the ‘clowns of the seas’ as I call them- Puffins.  A few images have even made the picture library of Getty images which is one of the best picture libraries in the world, so big thank you to all the guys involved in making this happen.

The image of two adult Puffins “kissing” or bonding has also made it to the June issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.  A full page which looks amazing, so thank you guys. I run one to one days or Spectacular Skomer trips up until the end of July where you can photograph and witness these amazing birds, for more info click on the links many thanks.

  1. Brian Tobin said:

    Not only are photo’s like these a real treat to look at, they reveal features and details that we might otherwise miss. Such as the beautiful eye detail and the flexible hinge mechanism of the beak, allowing the upper and lower mandibles to close parallel to each other to enable more fish to be securely held. Beautiful and fascinating.

  2. rosie green said:

    Really glad to see the shots that made the papers (since I was in Texel with you!!) . Stunning!!

  3. Andy Gregory said:

    Stunning pics as usual Craig. Nice to see it in BBC Wildlife mag. When are you next in Buxton?

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