06 Photograph puffins and other sea fowl
British wildlife is at its best in the summer, and if you take a trip to Isle of May off the Fife coast in Scotland you’ll find a colony of puffins waiting to be photographed.
“The island is accessible by boat from Easter to September from Anstruther, Fife,” says wildlife pro Jonathan Anderson. “The puffins arrive around May and depart in September.”
Jonathan says the best time to photograph puffins is when they’re gathering sand eels to feed their young. “At this time they pay you little attention, and you can get quite close if you crouch down low, walk slowly, and are patient.”
Jonathan also likes to shoot from a high vantage point, so the bird stands out against the sea behind. If, like him, you want to take this approach, you’ll need to position yourself carefully on the edge of the cliff.
“A head for heights always helps,” Jonathan admits. “And use a circular polarising filter on your lens to reduce the glare from the water.”
Of course, it’s not just on the Isle of May that puffins breed in the UK. Big colonies can also be found at South Stack, Anglesey; Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire; the Farne Islands, Northumberland; Bempton Cliffs, North Yorkshire; and the Shetland and Orkney Islands.
For more tips, download our free bird photography cheat sheet.
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- Use a telephoto lens with a focal length of around 300mm to get in close.
- Getting close enough is always a challenge, but patience pays off, and using a tripod and remote release to steady the camera at long focal lengths will help to ensure sharp shots.
- Set your camera to a shutter speed of 1/250 sec or faster.
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