Puffin Spotting in The Treshnish Isles

Puffin Day!

Finally the day was here! I’ve been wanting to see these beautiful birds forever and the singular only reason I was in Mull.  Sorry Mull.  You are beautiful. But its all about the Puffins.

I’d realised I had to get to Lunga to see proper good puffin action after watching Jane McDonald travel to the Treshnish Isles.  So via the power of google and a motorhome we planned it it.  Not quite as flamboyant as R Jane, but nevertheless – we were in the right place!

We’re Off! –

After the incredibly stressful morning of getting ready to go.  See main blog.  We were on the “Hoy Lass” run by Turus Mara – we were in good spirits and really excited.  I sat enviously side glancing at other passengers zoom lenses feeling rather inadequate – but we had four cameras between us – so we were bound to get something good!

First Stop – Staffa

It took round about 50 minutes to get to Staffa the island in which Fingals Cave is on.

The scenery and wildlife on the way there was fantastic.  We did get the first spot of a puffin using my super zooming….I screamed excitedly.  Chris shook his head.

…And these birds – I believe they are called Shags (hehehe – told you birdspotting was fun(for the childish))

Then we saw Staffa – it was gobsmackingly beautiful

Fingals Cave

I simply cannot post this without referring to fellow Yorkshire bird Jane McDonald again.

We totally loved this particular programme and as I say it pretty much inspired this trip.

She sang in Fingals Cave – I was desperate to do my rendition of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights in here….unfortunately I bottled it (maybe next year)…but watch Jane giving us her rendition of Amazing Grace instead.

Upon disembarkation we discovered it was hotter than the Mediterranean – only the Stoners could go to the inner Hebrides for a tan….Teddy landed on Staffa with a Jumper and Shirt on but quickly doffed off after running round the hexagonal pillars.

We couldn’t resist a family selfie in the cave…

Few facts about Fingals Cave:

  • Fingal’s Cave is formed entirely from hexagonally jointed basalt columns within a Paleocene lava flow.
  • Similar in structure to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
  • The columns are caused by cooling on the upper and lower surfaces of the solidified lava resulting in contraction and fracturing, starting in a blocky tetragonal pattern and transitioning to a regular hexagonal fracture pattern with fractures perpendicular to the cooling surfaces.
  • As cooling continued these cracks gradually extended toward the centre of the flow, forming the long hexagonal columns.
  • Similar hexagonal fracture patterns are found in desiccation cracks in mud where contraction is due to loss of water instead of cooling.

Unfortunately we spotted no puffins on Staffa.

The captain did advise us they would be out at sea feeding.  But he guaranteed us they are ready and waiting for us on Lunga and “they are ready and waiting there for us and have all been to Puffin Waddling School”.

The commentary on the boat was hilarious.  The captain was a Scotsman with a wonderfully dry sense of humour! Another quote “We will answer all questions asked and what we don’t know, we will make up!”


The boat trip over to Lunga was pretty short – I can’t tell you how long cause I was just having too much fun.

There began to be puffins and all sorts of birdlife diving all around the boat it was fantastic.

The captain gave everyone some advice on where to walk to get to the puffins – basically he advised it was a good climb up to the top of the cliff and then you will see them and upon seeing them you become awestruck and stop completely mesmerised by their puffinness – which was 100% correct.

We couldn’t stop staring at the very first one we saw, it was MAD! We laid down and watched him for ages.

Then we noticed just how many there actually were! And we were just looking at this one – no wonder he looked stressed!!!

*i think he was an old guy really or just having a bad hair day….

We proceeded to lay down watch and photograph them for two wonderful hours.  It was totally magic.

And to get the brilliance of Puffins over to the reader I decided to do a top ten.  These are our ten magic things that make Puffins so precious!

Top Ten Things We Love About Puffin

1. Their Beaks!

A puffin’s beak (or bill) changes colour during the year.

In winter, the beak has a dull grey colour, but in spring it blooms with an outrageous orange!

It’s thought that the bright colour helps puffins assess potential mates.

2. Their Orange Feet!

Their beautiful bright orange paddles are set back from the body and designed perfectly for the amount of swimming they do – did you know Puffins are sea birds and spend most of their life at sea?
Puffins are specially adapted to living on the open sea.  There, they hunt herring, hake, capelin, and sand eels. They supplement their meals by drinking saltwater.

We love their colour and that they help create their trademark waddle.  See Number 4.

3. The Way They Fly and Land

When you sit with Puffins you quickly discover they don’t actually land after flying.  They plop.  Faceplant. They are hilarious.  They even do a massive shake as if they are shocked they made it safely again too!

4. Their Waddle

As the captain of the Turus Mara ship said, the puffins of Lunga had all been to waddling school – its the cutest walk of all the animal kingdom I reckon!

5. The Puffin Noises!

We sat on Lunga fully immersed in Puffin-ness – when Eva kept saying “where is the cow?” At first I just said “nearby”….then I actually thought what she asked me, we’re in the middle of nowhere – where is the cow?

Well the answer is Puffins make the sound of a distant cow! Would you believe it! Now I’m home reviewing it – a motorbike or chainsaw would be an equally good description.

6. Their Cheeks!

God, they are cute! I cant explain what a photo doesn’t.  Soooooo cute!

7. The Comfort Puffins Have around Humans

The reason why you are able to get so close is that Puffins completely trust humans, in fact they use us! While humans are next to Puffin next Gulls, their main predators, stay away.

Nice for the animal kingdom to use us for a change!

8. Their Homes

Puffins build little burrows on cliff edges to nest in.  Quite often you have no clue they are there – then their little head pokes out.

9. The Location

We went to the Treshnish Isles in the Inner Hebrides to see them nesting.

Atlantic puffins live on the open ocean, with a range spanning from the eastern coast of Canada and the northern United States to the western coast of Europe and northern Russia. 60% of the world’s puffins live near Iceland – they tend to have a phenomenal eye for a good view!

10. The Way They Make You Feel

Turus Mara don’t name this trip Puffin Therapy for no reason.

We could quite easily fallen asleep in them waddling all around us on the cliff edge.

It really is the most relaxing experience ever.  Chris and I both fall asleep on the boat on the way home and missed photographing a sea eagle – we were waaaaaaaaaay too relaxed!


I couldn’t leave these photos out so here’s just puffin photos with no reason at all except – We LOVE Puffins!

And That Was Our Day!

Gutted it was over – but so pleased to have been.  Turus Mara gave us an experience of a lifetime!

One last selfie with the Puffins! Get yersens to Mull and book with Turas Mara to go see for yourselves!

Fran x




About Frances Stoner 29 Articles
Mum of "The Traveling Family UK" - here there and everywhere - love life and living. I enjoy the odd (bucket of) wine and love trying new food. My kids drive me mad but keep me driven. My husband comes up with the ideas - I execute them - and him. Oh and my dogs....my babies forever! Love them!


  1. Oh my goodness this is such a beautiful post! Puffins are actually so adorable, they don’t even look real do they? What cuties 🙂 xo

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