The Puffins of Latrabjarg

Luke MusherBird Sightings, Birding, PhotographyLeave a Comment

17 milimeters of pure wide-angle joy.  All of life's hardships momentarily melted away as I held my camera mere fractions of a foot from this Atlantic Puffin.  Note the daisies look rather radical in this photo. [Photo ©Lukas Musher]

17 milimeters of pure wide-angle joy. All of life’s hardships momentarily melted away as I held my camera mere fractions of a foot from this Atlantic Puffin. Note the daisies look rather radical in this photo. [Photo ©Lukas Musher]

Puffins are definitely one of those captivating and exciting animals that anyone will enjoy looking at.  Perhaps  it’s their clownish and colorful faces, or superficial resemblance to penguins which draws so many people to them. Although you don’t have to go all the way to Iceland to see them (Pelagic Boats out of the northeast in winter, or on their breeding colonies in Maine and eastern Canada, and two more species in the North Pacific), their unusual appearance and odd, eerie calls make the whole viewing experience pretty cool.  Photographing them is really fun.

It is a long, bumpy, dirty, dusty, windy (as in lots of twists and turns but now that you mention it, also as in very breezy), scary, albeit gorgeous and rewarding drive to the famous seabird colony on the cliffs of Latrabjarg at the easternmost tip of the Northwest Fjords in Iceland.  This location is the best in Iceland to view all of the breeding Alcids (Razorbill, Common and Thick-billed Murres, Black Guillemot), and several other species of breeding seabirds including Black-legged Kittiwake, Glaucous Gull, Parasitic Jaeger, and Northern Fulmar among others.  Google maps told me it would take 5 hrs from Reykjavik, but it took us 8, and we almost gave up because we had another 5 hrs to drive later, but I can honestly say, this place was awesome, literally awesome, and so worth every second of that drive.  In the hour or so we spent there, I didn’t even make it much farther than the parking lot photographing puffins that barely looked at you as if you weren’t even there (surprising considering that Icelanders frequently consume puffin meat – smoked puffin isn’t bad, but really I’d rather eat almost any other meat).  With a wide angle lens I was able to get within a foot of some of these birds.  Needless to say the photos are scrumptious.

Iceland

Now within biting range of this fellow, I decided to back off after this shot as he/she gave me a funny look.  Luckily I didn’t flush it. [Photo ©Lukas Musher]

Iceland

Back to the 400mm for some crushed Puffin [Photo ©Lukas Musher]

Iceland

A Crushed Puffin is a Happy Puffin [Photo ©Lukas Musher]

Iceland

Either the cutest yawn or cutest cry I’ve ever seen. [Photo ©Lukas Musher]

Atlantic Puffin Iceland

Audrey got into it too, and she got down for some proper up close Puffin viewing.  Don’t be the jerk who stands on the cliff and scares everything away.  We wouldn’t want you to trip and fall, now would we. [Photo ©Lukas Musher]

Well, she caught me as well.

Well, she caught me as well. [Photo by Audrey Palmen]