Puffins on Dyrholaey - Canon 7d w/200mm

Puffins spend most of the year at sea, only to come back in May to nest and mate. When I was in Iceland puffins had not begun nesting yet but I was lucky to see these two early one morning on the magical Dyrhˇlaey - an isolated peninsula (it used to be a volcanic island) in southern Iceland. They are delightful birds, quite tame (I got within a few feet of them) and everything they do is amusing, from the way they walk (like a drunken butler trying to retain his dignity) to their curious demeanour.

Puffins mate for life but separate when out at sea, returning to each other at the beginning of spring to get together again and clean out their burrow for the nesting season. I like to think that these two had just found each other after the long season at sea. The puffin's brightly coloured beak is actually only a feature during mating season, and the coloured part is shed when they return to sea revealing a smaller 'true' beak underneath. The larger beak helps the puffin gather extra food for chicks.

Iceland has the largest number of nesting Atlantic puffins, thought to be around 10 million, and at the end of the breeding season there is a 'festival' of sorts where families go out at night looking for puffin chicks (pufflings) that have lost their way, confused by modern lights. The puffins need to head out to sea to survive so, once collected, they are taken away from the city and literally thrown out to sea, in the same manner one would throw a rugby or American football. This gets them on the right track!



  • milou

    Excellent. I really like the little fellas having seen them up close on Lunga in the Treshnish Isles.


  • Frida

    Those Puffins also are found in Norway and I would love to go there and see them for real. Great capture of these two.


  • Miles

    They are very sweet birds, very silly too. I was surprised to find that there are colonies in England as far south as the Bristol channel, where there's a Lundy island (lundy is the word for puffin in the Scandinavian languages I think).


  • tomk

    Fantastic! I really like this one!


  • laanba

    I've always liked these birds and I love them even more after reading all this about them.


  • Frank

    Funniest birds have got to be the Penguins. Would love to see Puffins sometime...am surprised that you were able to get so close to them.


  • Marina

    Puffins are great and your pic makes me smile.


  • urban daisy

    Loved your puffin pic, and your words. :-)