- Puffins on Lunga
You can guess it from the head: This journey first of all was for the puffins.
As an advance, this time the cute birds did not spoof us as several times before (see Faraid Head or on Handa Island).
Starting for Lunga
To the absolute highlight of our journey: the tour to Lunga. Lunga is one of the Treshnish Isles, an uninhabited group of islands belonging to the Inner Hebrides.
Once a year the puffins return from sea to hatch. Lunga is one of their hatcheries. The island can be reached by boat either via Ulva over the short distance or from Fionnphort (pronounced Finn'po).
As we have rented a cottages close to Bunessan we start from Fionnphort by online booking.
Less than one hundred locals, a grocery, a campsite, and fishing.
Opposite Iona can be seen.
A nice beach near the port...
...sometimes a little traffic...
... and fishing.
There's the boat at last which will take us to the Lunga-puffins.
It's that small boat...
Quite some weather today and some hide in the small cabin...
...but the clouds will break up - soon.
...and the Isle of Lunga comes into view!
Docking is a little bit unusual...
The boat stays behind and we enter Lunga.
Finally on the island.
Lunga - of volcanic origins
Sometime this island has been inhabited. Somewhere the relicts of a settlement are said to be, ruins of a 'blackhouse', abandoned in 1857. Now the puffins are at home here.
They are no penguins, even if they are feathered in black and white...
...and walk as upright as those tailcoat bearers...
... but the beak rather reminds of parrots.
Therefore their nickname: sea-parrot.
They can be found in the Northern Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean.
Puffins do breed in burrows and on cliffs.
They like fish, shrimps, and molluscs.
Cats and ermines are their enemies.
The birds reach an age of up to 30 years.
They reach a flight speed of up to 40 km/h and are about 30 cm in size.
Down to 60 metres such a puffin can dive.
A puffin can carry many small fish at a time in its beak...
...some are said to manage more than 50.
It's the official bird of the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In winter the beak will be a greyish brown.
A bit steep here sometimes...
At present the puffin ranks as 'of least concern'.
Population is estimated at more than 7 million pairs. However, the estimated
population is rather volatile.
Increased mortality of the old birds during the winter at sea seem to be the reason.
Both partners have an equal share in breeding and feeding.
'Just' a cormorant...
Feed is presented to the fledglings...
...or thrown into the nest.
Depending on the diet, the fledglings leave the nest after 35 to 55 days.
The clutch consists of one egg only, breeding time comes up to 38 days.
At night the young puffins train flying before going out to sea.
As soon as they reach the sea, the young birds swim out on their own.
They will not return to he colony.
The old birds however will return to the colony after 2-3 weeks.
Puffins and their burrows can be quietly approached...
...but they will attack if you come too close.
Birds ringed in Northern Scotland were mostly found again in the Northern Atlantic and the North Sea...
...Iceland puffins however only along the coasts of Newfoundland.
After two hours we have to go back - pity.
Somewhere in the distance the boat is already waiting to take us back.
A little whistfully we say farewell to Lunga and the cute puffins.
Anyway, the next adventure is waiting for us.