The puffin is a popular spring and summer visitor to Scotland. Each year, nearly a million of these comical auks appear from the open ocean to take up residence in their burrows around the country's coast. Feeding mainly on sandeels, puffins waste no time in laying their eggs and rearing their young before disappearing back to sea again.
While some of the largest puffin colonies in the British Isles are to be found on remote archipelagos such as St Kilda and the Shiants, visitors to Scotland benefit from a number of more accessible populations, among them Inchcolm and the Isle of May (both manageable as a day trip from Edinburgh), Staffa and the Treshnish Isles off Mull, and small numbers at St Abb's Head, Fowlsheugh and the Mull of Galloway.
Puffins start congregating in the waters around their breeding sites in April, and generally lay their eggs during May. Throughout June and early July, the birds are very active flying to and from their burrows with food for the chicks.
When to see this species : Spring, Summer
Two Days in Puffin Country
Arrive at Craignure on the Isle of Mull via the ferry from Oban. Just to the south of here, two very different castles warrant a look around. The first is Duart Castle may be familiar to fans of the Sean Connery adventure movie Entrapment. This is the 13th-century stronghold of the Clan MacLean, and is worth a visit for the dungeons and adjacent tearoom alone! Continue south-west along the scenic Ross of Mull and you will eventually reach Fionnphort, departure point for the magical Isle of Iona, the "Cradle of Christianity in Scotland" St Columba arrived here and founded a monastery in Ad 563, and who can blame him? This breathtaking spot, with its white sands and turquoise seas, continues to attract pilgrims, both religious and spiritual, in their thousands. Return via the same route to Tobermory, the colourful capital of Mull, located around a sheltered harbour in the north-east of the island. Kids will notice a striking similarity to the fictional village of Balamory on BBC Television!
Mull is blessed with a wonderful range of day excursions, both on land and by boat to its satellite islands and stunning surrounding waters. Those in search of creatures of the deep should call upon the services of Sea Life Surveys, based in Tobermory. With one of the finest records of cetacean spotting in Europe, your guides offer a variety of tours from 1-hour mini-cruises to full day adventures. Island safaris are offered by Discover Mull from Dervaig, Island Encounter from Aros and Isle of Mull Wildlife Expeditions, based in Ulva Ferry, all of which provide opportunities to spot white-tailed and golden eagles, seals, otters and deer. Ulva Ferry is also the base for Turus Mara, one of Mull's longest established operators of tours to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles. These western outposts are home to unique scenery and, between May and July, some of Scotland's most approachable puffins. Staffa in particular should not be missed. Its hexagonal basalt columns rival the Giant's Causeway for sheer spectacle, reaching their most dramatic at Fingal's Cave, inspiration for the composer Mendelssohn. On your return to Tobermory, treat yourself to a drink at one of Scotland's most renowned pubs, the Mishnish, where if you're lucky- you'll catch as live session from some of the island's many talented folk musicians.
For more ideas on attractions to visit around Oban and Mull, Click Here