Sunday, 5 July 2015

Look for the hole, not the Puffin

The cliffs that stretch between Flamborough Head and Bempton are famous for their huge number of seabirds and, making up a small but important part of these is the enigmatic little Puffin. This is another photogenic seabird, another favourite of mine and, judging by the enquiries of people that we met along the cliffs, a favourite of a lot of others too.
The Puffin is smaller than all of the other residents of this cliff wall and unlike the rest, it rears its chicks away from aerial preditors in a hole or convenient crevice. Looking for them amongst the larger but similarly coloured Razorbills and Guillemots can be like looking for a needle in a pile of other needles. We quickly found that it was easier to look for holes in the cliff rather than the bird itself, there was a good chance that inside it would be a smart, portly little bird with bright orange feet and very curious beak.

Trying to get the iconic 'beak full of Sand Eels' is not easy! A close up would have been nice but even here at Bempton the only way would have been with climbing gear.

 Look for the hole, not the Puffin. There is a good chance that any crevice will contain a Puffin or two...or three...or four...or five...
 It is difficult enough to get a good Puffin shot, but getting a youngster to pose is even worse! The Puffling is bland compaired to mum and dad, with a small dark beak and dull grey legs. It almost looks like a different species.
 As the light starts to go and the cliffs change from white to grey the smart black and white plumage egts more difficult to pick out on a photograph.

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