The distinctive breeding colouration of the Atlantic puffin makes this bird one of the most photographed in the world and it is difficult to try and capture a ‘new’ image of them. However, they are so photogenic that when you spend time with them, among the thousands of photos you can’t help but take, something different catches your eye.
In winter puffins lose their bright colours and part of their beak even falls away. They spend all winter out in open ocean, at sea, diving and feeding. They do not need their colourful beak and feet during this time as they have no partner to impress. It is only for breeding purposes, showing their (mostly) life-long partner how healthy they are. They bring up one chick only each summer in a burrow on a cliff.
The baby, known as a puffling emerges grey, black and white (see photos), very different looking to the adults.
Atlantic puffins are now considered ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN endangered species list as their numbers are in decline. For this reason I work hard in Iceland to try and stop the puffin hunting there for food. Please don’t eat puffin if you visit Iceland.
All images taken on the wonderful Grimsey Island (not the famous one) off Drangsnes, Westfjords. This fantastic puffin tour often has very few passengers, but with a colony of around 60,000 puffins it is truly spectacular.