Puf­fin clas­sics

When vis­it­ing Pem­brokeshire, Terry Tooze chal­lenged him­self to cap­ture the lo­cal wildlife as well as the stunning land­scape

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While I was on my an­nual visit to Wales, I read a leaflet about Skomer, which is also known as Puf­fin Is­land. It crossed my mind what a great photo chal­lenge this would be. It would mean a day’s shoot­ing with my D7100, with plenty of time to cap­ture both the puffins and the out­stand­ing land­scape of the Welsh coast.

Af­ter con­vinc­ing my wife what a great time she would have on this par­adise is­land (okay, I might have dressed it up a bit) we drove the twohour jour­ney, tak­ing in some of Wales’ most amaz­ing land­scapes along the way. Then we ar­rived in Martin’s Haven, on the south­west tip of Pem­brokeshire.

Skomer lies just off the Pem­brokeshire coast, and is well known to wildlife and land­scape pho­tog­ra­phers as an un­spoilt area per­fect for am­a­teurs and pro­fes­sion­als alike to cap­ture some stunning images. Pem­brokeshire it­self is quite re­mote, so it tends not to get too crowded, es­pe­cially out of sea­son. The best time to pho­to­graph puffins is May and June. A 50-seat pas­sen­ger boat trans­ports vis­i­tors to the is­land from Martin’s Haven, a small cove two miles from Mar­loes vil­lage, near Haver­ford­west.

It took a 30-minute boat trip to reach Skomer from the main­land. The sight of thou­sands and thou­sands of puffins was ut­terly breath­tak­ing. We climbed the steep steps up to the vis­i­tors’ ar­rival cen­tre and were given our prep talk on what to do, and what not to do. We were then sent on our way. My ex­cite­ment was bub­bling up, so I re­trieved my trusty D7100 from of my back­pack, and with

my Nikon 18-200mm zoom lens at­tached, and I was off.

I spent a cou­ple of hours try­ing to cap­ture the birds in flight with their fish din­ner in their mouths. This proved to be a chal­lenge. If you can imag­ine a loaf of bread do­ing 55mph, then that was what it was like. I was shoot­ing in man­ual mode at f/7.1, ISO100, 1/200 sec and 200mm fo­cal length to cap­ture the amaz­ing fly­ing puf­fin.

We spent about five hours walk­ing around the is­land; the puffins came within inches at times, and there were also ra­zor­bills, guille­mots, Manx shear­wa­ters, great cor­morants, black-legged kit­ti­wakes, Euro­pean storm pe­trels, com­mon shags and more. It was a wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher’s heaven, with a boat trip thrown in. This will cer­tainly be on my list of re­turn trips, and next time I’ll pos­si­bly spend a day with the is­land’s pho­tog­ra­pher, which I am sure will have its benefits.

01 Head­ing home aft er a suc­cess­ful day Nikon D7100, Nikon AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR DX, 1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO100

03 A view from groun d level Nikon D7100, Nikon AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR DX, 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO200 04 Beaut iful Pem­brokeshire in all its glo ry Nikon D7100, Nikon AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR DX, 1/5000 sec, f/3.5, ISO500 02 Dinn er is Served Nikon D7100, Nikon AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR DX, 1/640 sec, f/6.3, ISO250

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