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Atlantic Puffin - Treshnish Isles

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Atlantic Puffin - Treshnish Isles

When Is the Best Time 

Breeding season on the Isle of Lunga (one of the Treshnish Isles) starts in the middle of April. To make sure to have thousands of them on Lunga Island I recommend a visit not before May. They stay on this island until the beginning of August. I went there at the end of June, and besides puffins, I saw chicks from the guillemot, razorbill, and shag. The puffin chicks are hidden in the burrows, and you may encounter them only when they leave the nest.

Where to Stay (Season Lodging Tip)

Your best bet is to stay in Oban. Actually, to get to the Hebrides (islands), you need to go through Oban, as it is the main ferry port!  There are lovely B&B's. Our favorite one with the very best location is Glenburnie House dating from the 19th century.

United Kingdom, Scotland, Argyll and Bute, Treshnish Isles - Isle of Lunga
Review and Tips 

Lunga Island the largest of the Treshnish Isles and a photographers and birdwatchers dream. There are thousands of puffins and guillemots. The guillemots are nesting on a huge rock opposite to Lunga. You can't miss them follow the noise. Also, razorbill and shags are common here, but the population is much smaller.

Getting There

You can either book a tour in Oban, or from one of the islands. Mostly Lunga is combined with Staffa, Fingal's Cave. We spent two hours on Lunga and in my opinion, this was not enough to take excellent pics and to enjoy puffins coming back to their burrows with fish in their beak. Depending on what you want to experience there are combined tours and just birding tours offered. Tour operators are: Staffa Tours and Turus Mara

Must-Know Tips
  • Book the trip in advance, but only a couple of days because of the unpredictable weather.
  • Check the weather forecast before booking. Rain and strong wind can spoil your trip. 
  • Don't forget to bring a wind- and rainproof jacket, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Fascinating Birds

Puffin couple stay together for life. They start to breed when they are about 5-6 years old and often live for 20 years. Puffins lay only one single egg in burrows. Parents incubate it for 36-45 days and another 34-60 days for fledging. The fledging period is depending on the area and year. They have short wings which are good for flying reaching 50 mph and also good for swimming/diving up to 60 meters deep to catch fish, especially sandeel. The sandeel is reach in nutrition and has a huge impact on the breeding success and their survival. Main predators are gulls and peregrine falcons. Puffins lose their bright beak and also the eye ornamentation in winter, but it grows again in early spring in time for courtship.


There is a huge colony of guillemots which are closely related to the Puffin. They also lay one single egg. Here it is the father who is taking care of the chicks for about two months; the mother remains two weeks only. They can dive more than 30 meters deep to catch fish. When you reach a massive rock at the end of the trail, you can already hear the loud noise of the Guillemots.


The razorbill is also a species of the Auk family like puffins and guillemot. Also, they lay one single egg. They can dive very deep more than 100 meters but usually around 25 meters. Their beaks are wider and white stripe rum from eye to beak.


The shag is similar to cormorants but smaller with a thinner beak. Their breeding season is from June to August. The shag dives at least 45 meters deep and has the same preferred food like the puffin.

Birdwatching Gadget Tip: Canon 10x30 Image Stabilization II Binoculars from amazon.com (German users click here: Canon 10x30 is II Fernglas from amazon.de)



May 10, 2017

I was on Lunga island just this week. Fantastic weather and hundreds of puffins unafraid of people. We spent less than two hours on the island. I have to go there again to stay a longer. It's totally worth it.

May 11, 2017

Visited most recently in late April 2017. Very few visitors and a delight to spend a few hours in the company of these wonderful birds.

For more photographs & wildlife prints: Karen Miller Photography

May 11, 2017

I visited the Treshnish Isles back in 2015 and I cannot recommend this place enough! We were extremely fortunate as we went at the end of April and the Puffins had only just returned to the isles. It was a truly wonderful experience getting to watching the Puffins perform their courtship routines and excavating their borrows. It is an amazing place to photograph Puffins as you can get extremely close, and as along as you respect the wildlife, they will go about there business as normal, and you can see their behaviour up close (www.eddcottell.co.uk). You only get 2 hours on the island which goes very quickly and only leaves you wanting more! Don't hesitate, get it booked and visit this very special place.

May 13, 2017

Puffins galore on the Isle of Lunga, it's a must for the wildlife enthusiast and photographer.
Follow me at Lesley Robb or flickr