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Atlantic Puffins on Skomer in Wales

These "sea parrots" really make your day and put a smile on your face!

Best time: mid April–July (best early to mid-July)

Atlantic Puffins on Skomer
Atlantic Puffins on Skomer
Atlantic Puffins on Skomer
Atlantic Puffins on Skomer

Near the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast, there is Skomer Island, a world-renowned wildlife paradise. Its exposed headlands, towering offshore rocks, and sheltered inlets are home to incredible species of birds. This island is famous for puffins and the largest breeding colony of these birds in Southern Britain with around 10,000 breeding pairs of puffins on Skomer and Skokholm Islands. They usually migrate to the islands in mid-April and stay in the area for breeding until late July.

During their breeding season (early to mid-July) they are literally within a foot or two of the path in thousands. Hurry up to see them, because in August the puffins migrate to the North Atlantic.

This is a seabird and an excellent swimmer and diver, capable of going up to 60 m deep. The Puffin is also a good flyer that can reach speeds of 80 km/h. They are fun birds and so pretty! Puffins look like a little penguin in colour with a very colourful beak. During winter the beak fades to grey and becomes orange again spring, probably to attract potential mates. Most of their life is lived on the water, swimming and resting on the sea waves. They are not only cute but very clever. It is unclear how these birds navigate back to their nesting home in Skomer.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Skomer Island for Puffin watching?

Between mid-April to late July is when you should visit Skomer Island for Puffin watching. This is when around 10,000 pairs of breeding Puffins nest on the Island, with the best time to see them being from early to mid-July, as they come very close to the path. These birds migrate to the islands in mid-April to breed and leave in late July to spend the rest of the year at sea. Show more

Where is Skomer Island located and how to get there?

Skomer Island can be found off the Pembrokeshire coast, in Wales, United Kingdom. Tourists can get there by first arriving at Martin's Haven, a small village that serves as the take-off point to Skomer Island. From Martin's Haven, a fifteen-minute boat ride can take visitors to Skomer Island, a place famous for its wildlife and natural beauty. Show more

How many Puffin breeding pairs are on Skomer and Skokholm Islands?

Both Skomer and Skokholm Islands are home to approximately 10,000 pairs of Puffin breeding. Skomer Island has the largest breeding colony of Puffins in Southern Britain. The birds migrate to the Islands to breed between mid-April and late July and are known to come very close to the path, creating memorable experiences for nature enthusiasts. Show more

Do Puffins only live in Wales or are they found in other areas?

Puffins primarily live in the North Atlantic region, found in the United Kingdom, among other places. Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales are where most of the Puffin population breeds. Breeding occurs in large offshore colonies like those present on Skomer and Skokholm Islands. During the colder months, they feed mainly at sea, making them rather difficult to spot. Show more

How deep and fast can Puffins swim, dive, and fly?

Puffins are highly skilled and equipped to swim and dive, capable of going as far as sixty meters deep and swimming up to six metres per second. They also fly quite well, reaching maximum speeds of 80 km/h. These birds use their wings to fly underwater, catch fish - their primary food source - and propel themselves through water. Their unique beak is also strong enough to hold several small fish at once. Show more

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