Ask the majority of visitors to Skomer Island what it is they want to see and the answer is almost certainly puffins. These delightful birds with their brightly coloured bills are part of the largest colony of puffins in Southern Britain. Each year around 6,000 of them return to spend the spring and summer on Skomer.
Puffins arrive on Skomer in late March, but don’t immediately settle down on the island. Initially they collect in rafts at sea, as if to build up their confidence to storm the island. But soon they return to the cliff tops to re-occupy burrows where they will lay a single egg which will hatch in June. After, the birds can be seen flying into the island, with beaks lined with sand eels. By late July the birds depart the island and return to a life at sea. It is then that the brightly coloured bills, for which puffins are so recognisable, fade, to come to life again next spring.
Many people are surprised when they first see a puffin by how small they are, just 30cm from beak to tail. They also marvel at how relaxed they seem around visitors to the island, crossing the paths to reach their burrows, while navigating their way through feet and legs. The best time to see puffins on Skomer Island is between May and early July.