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Tales from Vacation 3 - PuffinsPuffinsPuffins!!! - "You didn't hear about the polar bear?"
June 23rd, 2005
07:56 pm

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Tales from Vacation 3 - PuffinsPuffinsPuffins!!!
I love nature photography, and when I found out that Scotland's western islands offer opportunities to photograph seabirds (especially puffins) and seals, I knew what I had to include on the itinerary!

The way to get there is to get to Oban, on the coast, which turns out to be a nice little seaside resort town - shades of the town in "Local Hero", if it had become a tourist town, complete with having to look both ways for the occasional speeding car or motorcycle and at few eccentrics - *G*. The last three days had been rainy and full of difficult driving, but the weather report said there might be some sun the next day, so I was hopeful. Hallelujah! The sun came out just before we landed on the island, and went away again as soon as we left.

That left 2 full hours on the island, and what an experience. You could literally get to within 5 to 10 feet of the puffins without disturbing them. They nest on the cliffs, but apparently get curious and come up and sit on top of the cliff on the grassy verge. Great to watch, incredible to photograph. Their little stout bodies are better for swimming than flying, but, like bumblebees, they fly anyway, furiously pumping their little wings. Then, on top of that, behind us was a wheatear (small bird) feeding its almost grown babies as they perched out in the open on a rock! I hated to leave, but I have to admit that we had more than enough time to take lots of photos and enjoy ourselves.

And, why so amazing? I've flown hundreds of miles from Anchorage, Alaska to get to a tiny island off the coast to photograph Pacific puffins, climbing down to just below the lip of the cliffs to try to glimpse enough of them to photograph. And there is an island off of Maine where you can go to photograph Atlantic puffins. But that's about it! Yes, folks, my guess is that 95% of all the photos of wild puffins you see are taken from one of these three places. So this is pretty damn amazing. *G*

Think I'm pulling your leg? *G* Please check out the following photos (I'm keeping them small for the purposes of copywriting):











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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 24th, 2005 02:03 am (UTC)
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I was very into Alaska for a long time, and these are some of the most beautiful birds there - and in the world - as well as being exotic. And, let's face it - they're cute! *G*
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From:cyloran
Date:June 24th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC)
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Totally kewl!! Those are great puffin pix, Ros! I'm sad to say, I've never seen a live one before; only pix.
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 24th, 2005 02:58 am (UTC)
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Not surprising... you'd have to go to Alaska or Maine! They are truly amazing little creatures. Thanks!
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From:ninquelosse
Date:June 24th, 2005 02:50 am (UTC)
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All my breath left my body when I saw these! Great photos as always!
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 24th, 2005 03:00 am (UTC)
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*G* Thank you! It's not oftne that you get to photograph great subjects in great light; I loved it.
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From:zanne68
Date:June 24th, 2005 04:18 am (UTC)
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Wow, those are great shots! Little posers, aren't they? hehe
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 24th, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC)
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*G* You'd think so!
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From:freakspawn
Date:June 24th, 2005 06:44 am (UTC)
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Great pics. Puffins are great creatures, they must be lovely to photograph :)

ps Guinness;)
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 24th, 2005 01:22 pm (UTC)
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p.s. Mmmmmmmm.... had quite a bit while I was in the country! *G*
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From:freakspawn
Date:June 24th, 2005 03:17 pm (UTC)
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and so you should have :)
From:ex_salwood
Date:June 24th, 2005 07:21 am (UTC)
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Whta beautiful photographs!
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 24th, 2005 01:23 pm (UTC)
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*G* What a cute icon! *L*!
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From:anonypooh
Date:June 24th, 2005 08:01 am (UTC)
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omgawwwwwwwwwwsoocute!

I've got a toy one :) never seen a real one - fabulous photos my dear ... so how many people were on one boat trip with you? Any fellow happy snappers?
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 24th, 2005 01:33 pm (UTC)
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*G* BTW - I did almost go to the Farne Islands as the very first thing, but the weather forecast was terrible for Mon/Tues and better for the end of the week, so I saved puffins for then. And, after this - I didn't need to go. But I did call the guy who runs the boat tours there early on, and he sounded great - *G*.

And, yes! Actually, there was a whole group of British nature photographers (a surprisingly fun-loving, very competent, laidback group!) who had booked the boat for Tuesday, but they hadn't been able to go out. So they got a free trip on Thursday AND they asked to see the puffins first (the other stop is at Staffa Island to see Fingal's Cave and is usually the first stop). Bless them! Because of them we got the good light - *G*. There was one other photographer in the group who reminded me of me about 10 years ago, in terms of equipment, etc. But a lot of the folks were just casual visitors who went and tromped happily about the island, probably unaware of what an amazingly rare opportunity this was! *G*

The only downside was that it WAS crowded. Only 10 can fit in the seating on top, and there were probably 10 more below. Turned out, however, that we didn't really see anything from the boat, and they had big windows below, and opened up one, but I was assuming they wouldn't take more than could fit on the outside seating. So I learned to be first in line to get back in! *G*

It's a neat trip; I'd definitely recommend it if you did a trip to Scotland. There's also the option of going to Iona and Staffa instead. Iona is the site of where Christianity started in Scotland and it sounds very intriguing, especially to somebody like yourself who's into ancient sites. These are all in the Inner Hebrides, if you're looking for them on a map - they're below Skye.

Then you could drive up through the Highlands, to take in the beauty, and go up to the Orkneys (I think that's right) where there are lots of old burial sites and standing stones. Would be cool!

And, finally, you could come down to Edinburgh and catch a play, as well as check out the sights.

*G* Do I sound like a Scottish tour guide now?
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From:green_ghost
Date:June 24th, 2005 11:55 pm (UTC)
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Amazing shots!!
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 25th, 2005 12:21 am (UTC)
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*G* Thank you!
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From:green_ghost
Date:June 25th, 2005 12:30 am (UTC)
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Hey, there's an article here you might be interested in. I haven't watched Dr. Who since Tom Baker played him, but I bet Stephen would write/be a great one.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4620407.stm.
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 25th, 2005 12:57 am (UTC)
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THANK you! That would be amazing! *G*
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From:onecheekyhobbit
Date:June 25th, 2005 08:33 pm (UTC)
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I LOVE PUFFINS!!!

That is all.
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 25th, 2005 11:14 pm (UTC)
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See - you should have traveled with me! *heeheehee!* Yes... they're kind of the "hobbits" of the bird world... only more colorful! *S*
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From:onecheekyhobbit
Date:June 29th, 2005 06:10 am (UTC)
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True.... PUffins and Penguins... the only birds I like... I like them so much though they are my favorites... along with turtles and tigers.
K
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 29th, 2005 03:12 pm (UTC)
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Interesting and alliterative combination!
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From:finabair
Date:June 26th, 2005 07:33 pm (UTC)
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These are some AMAZING Puffin pictures! Nice sharpness to them!


Also? Baby Puffin!!!

http://www.livejournal.com/community/baaaaabyanimals/974847.html?#cutid1

(Ever notice that things just all come up at once? I haven't heard of puffins in weeks/months/whatever and I've come across three references to them in the span of about four days, now!)
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From:rosamundeb
Date:June 26th, 2005 07:55 pm (UTC)
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*L*! Lord, you can't even tell it's a puffin!!! It's just a fuzzy lump with a beak - *G*.

Glad you went to the Moot! Sounds like a good night out with the gals.

And, what can I say, except that it must be... PUFFINMANIA!!!!! WHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! *L*!
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