Puffin Island


From the breakfast nook at our B & B, we could see Puffin Island, and I wanted to get a closer look. I knew a lot of species of birds came there to breed, so we’d get to see something even if we didn’t see a puffin.

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View of Puffin Island from our breakfast nook

We set out from the lovely Beaumaris Pier (byoo-MARE-iss) aboard Starida’s Island Princess. I’d highly recommend them. The skipper was awesome, and got us in for a good look at various birds, including some PUFFINS!

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Panoramic view of Beaumaris Pier walk

 

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Sailboats waiting in the Menai Straight (men-AYE), Mt. Snowden in the backdrop

Like all the other short cruises I’ve taken, I listened to the information about what I was seeing, and then promptly forgot 95%+ of the facts I just heard. This time was a little easier to forget, though, because I didn’t catch a lot of what the skipper said. His Welsh accent was pretty thick. But I have a few cool pictures to share at least.

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On the way out of the strait to the Irish Sea, we saw some castle ruins

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We also saw an old church, with some sheep in the background

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A decommissioned lighthouse

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Approaching Puffin Island

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Drawing up alongside Puffin Island

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Another shot of Puffin Island

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Bird researchers “ringing” birds (called “tagging” in American). The sound of birds was deafening, even over the boat engine.

I always thought that puffins looked like some sort of fake penguin, since my exposure to them had been limited: 1) the not-as-cool-as-Toucan-Sam bird on the side of a box of an all-natural, un-delicious cereal, and 2) annoying, unfunny memes. But now I know how unfair this is to puffins. They’re pretty cool little birds.

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Sculpture outside the Puffin Cafe outside Penmaenmawr, Wales

(To be clear, I’m talking about Atlantic puffins in this post, since those are the ones that come to breed at Puffin Island.)

Puffins live solitary lives out in the icy waters of the Atlantic for UP TO TWO YEARS before they come ashore to breed. Other than breeding, they live out their lives on the water. They can fly 50 MPH!!! But they’re not that great at landing, so they pretty much crash into the water. You’d have to be pretty darn tough to belly flop at that speed. When they take off, it’s a whole lot of skipping and flapping across the water until they just turn into bullets and disappear.

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They’re fast little guys! (I didn’t take this photo.)

I expected puffins to be bigger than they are, but they’re tiny in comparison to many other sea birds, only about 8 inches tall—11 including its beak and tail. These little guys can dive up to 230 feet deep to go fishing, and can eat fish that are up to 7 inches long. The one fact I do remember from the skipper is that the bird researchers once found a puffin with 60 little fishes in its beak (I forgot the kind of fish).

They look kinda dorky on land…

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They aren’t so graceful on land. (I didn’t take this photo.)

…but they’re so darn cute when they’re swimming along.

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Two little puffins chillin’ on the water. So cute! I was never able to get a really close shot, but you can see more detail if you zoom in.

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