Puffins are one of my favourite Orkney seabirds! and luckily for me and for you, there are lots of them here in Orkney! I have painted many watercolours of puffins over the years so I thought I would bring together
especially for you to browse through. I have also written a 'fun fact' blog for you to read all about puffins and where to find them in Orkney!
Several pairs can be found around our coast at Marwick head in Birsay, The Brough of Birsay, North Birsay, Burwick cliffs in south Ronaldsay and The Brough of Deerness on what we call the 'Orkney mainland', these locations tend to be all quite high sea cliffs but there is one outer island in particular where you can visit a large colony of several hundred birds. This is the island of Westray at Burrian castle. Burrian castle is about three miles from Rapness ferry terminal so it is possible to go to Westray for the day and walk to see the puffins and get back to catch the ferry back to Kirkwall in the early evening. However the best time of day to visit the puffin colony can be early evening when these little birds arrive back home from fishing out at sea, so you may want to stay longer. There are plenty of other things to do and see in Westray, there is a gannet colony at Noup head lighthouse, several arts and crafts galleries/shops and many beautiful beaches all around the coast.
The Orkney name for these gorgeous cute little birds is Tammie Norrie. Our puffins in Orkney are Atlantic puffins. Puffins spend the winter out at sea and arrive in Orkney to breed at the beginning of April and stay until mid August. Puffins mate for life and have one chick or 'puffling' each summer. These extremely tough, brave little birds are only 27cm in length, with the males having bigger and deeper bills or beaks than the females. They can live to twenty years old and are often nicknamed 'clowns of the sea' or 'sea parrot'.
They build thier nests underground in grassy burrows and thier 'pufflings' only emerge to fly out to sea six weeks after birth under the cover of darkness to avoid marauding gulls and skuas. Younger puffins have much less colour in thier beaks than thier adult parents rainbow coloured beaks. A group of puffins is called a 'circus of puffins'. They have a diet of mainly sand eels but also small herrings, unfortunately this staple diet is dissapearing fast due to over fishing but it is hoped that new fishing laws in the future can help combat this.
Puffins can carry 5-20 sand eels in it's beak at one time, on land male puffins often grunt and flick thier heads in an attempt to attract a female mate and a couple will sometimes loudly hit thier beaks together to strengthen the pair bond. Puffin love!
I hope you enjoy my fun facts about puffins! I have put together a collection of my puffin limited edition prints and gifts for you to browse, to view just visit