Welsh island of Skomer is without exaggeration one of the top spots for Atlantic puffin watching in natural habitat. Here is how we got there and what we saw!
Our car shaves the morning mist off the grass along a narrow twisted country road in Pembrokeshire as we speed up. We are late. We are risking not to make it to Skomer today because there are only 3 boat trips per day and each boat carries 50 passengers. To get the lucky ticket for puffin watching on Skomer Island, one needs to make an effort. On the morning of the trip you need to be in a live queue outside the Lockley Lodge -reservation ticket office – long before it opens. I hold my breath while I am walking down the hill counting people in the queue …81, 82 – phew, we made it! Bit of waiting and at 8:00 am sharp the door of the lodge opens and queue starts to move. We get our tickets for the 11 am boat and happy but sleepy return to the hotel to check out. Couple of hours later we are back to the small picturesque harbour to board a fisherman boat with romantic name Dale Princess.
Embarkation is fast and smooth, cheerful crew throws a couple of jokes and explains the basics of the trip while we depart. Passengers look excited and start turning their heads around immediately, not to miss anything exceptional. If you are lucky enough, you can even spot whales in the waters of Pembrokeshire, so there is definitely a reason to be on a look out. We did not spot any whales, but some half way through first puffins start to show up. It is a mystery how they manage to keep themselves in the air, let alone to cover huge distances with comparably small wings they have. Really, they look like some humming birds species flapping those wings 400 times per minute
Enjoying the amusing company, we are approaching Skomer and it’s beauty stuns from far away. Steep rocks covered with emerald green grass, colorful flowers and hundreds of birds taking off and landing in an endless graceful game. We are off the boat, climbed quite a few steps up, received strict instructions about our dos and don’ts on the island from the local wildlife expert and now free to explore this secluded gem by ourselves
There are several trails there. You can decide to walk clock or anti-clock wise and you move at your own pace, stopping whenever you want – just make sure to get to the pier on time for your boat departure. There is no supervision or any kind of guides – people here trust you to be respectful and extremely careful in a fragile biological environment. There are toilets and rest area in the central part of the island. And there is also a small dormitory for those who applied to stay here overnight
With 4.5 hours allowed on the island for those who are on a day trip, there is plenty of time to cover it across and along as well as to have a small picnic (bring your own food and drinks, they do not sell any) and of course to admire Skomer celebrities – read beaked puffin cuties. You can see them pretty much everywhere along the shore, but there are a few spots on the Southern side where there are hundreds of them hustling at the distance of arm’s reach. They cross your path here and there, walking like little Churchill copies. They stand by and watch you with curiosity or just completely disregard you eagerly socialising with each other. No matter what they do they are super funny and amusing creatures, and watching them in a natural environment, so close, is a heart warming experiences and the best therapy that will take all your blues away
Besides the puffins, Skomer bird kingdom is home to elegant guillemot, falcons, owls and dozens of other bird species. You will also come across rabbits – rather populous island inhabitants. And there are good chances that seals will be playing in teal waters just a few meters from the shore. They enjoy attention, like to interact and therefore always glad to have some spectators to their show
We enjoyed Skomer a lot, and will definitely be back one day, maybe with an overnight trip. I can only imagine how magical it gets when all the visitors are gone and you are one on one with the pristine nature in this flourishing wildlife place. And – let’s keep it flourishing together
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