One other point about puffins. Duncansby Head is the most north-easterly point of the UK and Scottish mainland. For example, if you head north to Caithness and park at Duncansby Head Lighthouse and walk south to get the standard pictures of the Stacks of Duncansby, then there are puffins on the grassy sections of the cliffs en route. No, but they did see puffins, at a colony in Wales and at another in Iceland, pick up twigs and scratch themselves in otherwise awkward places. Just now and again you’ll spot one or two – gasp – puffins. I know I intend to. (Pictured below) This is not a puffin. Book your tickets online for Duncansby Head, John O'Groats: See 676 reviews, articles, and 572 photos of Duncansby Head, ranked No.1 on Tripadvisor among 8 attractions in John O'Groats. It’s wee sprat-like North Atlantic fish. When the time is right, like independently minded teenagers, the young set off at night from their home-burrow, ignored by their parents. Maybe you photographers want to try that if you want real close-ups? No point in having great long soaring wings like a gull. (See puffin tool-using – yes, really – lower down the page.). OK, I know enough now about how to recognise a puffin. They’re a very sociable lot, the other auks like guillemots and razorbills, pictured here. For my next life, I’m definitely not coming back as a puffin. The rock formations , gullies and stacks are truly amazing. Hotels near Duncansby Head; Hotels near Puffin Croft Petting Farm & Farm Shop; Hotels near John O'Groats Signpost; All things to do in John O'Groats; Sights & Landmarks in John O'Groats. Where to see puffins in ScotlandPuffinaceous encounters take two forms here. The puffin pictures here were captured by Johanna on Staffa, an island more associated with Fingal’s Cave. The walk from John O’Groats to the Stacks at Duncansby Head should take you around 2.5 – 3 hours of walking. The start is the small car park at Duncansby Head (grid ref. Don't miss this after you have visited John O'Groats. The most you can hope for is a kind of fishy indifference. The feet stick out like brake-lights. Hopeless under water. We drove on to the north-easterly tip of the Scottish mainland and Duncansby Head, which sits on top of high cliffs. (Well, they’re hardly going to get it from the health-food store, are they?). Hotels near Duncansby Head; Hotels near Puffin Croft Petting Farm & Farm Shop; Hotels near John O'Groats Signpost; All things to do in John O'Groats; Sights & Landmarks in John O'Groats. Puffins and auks have a special problem. There are many more out on the Forth islands, eg Isle of May. (Pictured here) Some places to see puffins in Scotland. It’s that beak, plus the eye make-up. They are also on the island of Noss in some numbers, while you can also patronise a puffin or two at Hermaness right at the very top of Shetland. Orcas (killer whales) are regularly seen off the coast, while … Each parent at sea may dive between 600 and 1150 times daily for the sandeel or sprats or capelin. *Male and female puffins look more or less identical, (except to other puffins, presumably) but wear their clown gear only for the breeding season. Obviously I can’t put in every cliff-face. This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Car Park by the lighthouse and a short walk across the fields brings you to the amazing natural sea stacks of Duncansby Head. Well worth the mile or so walk. But wait…. These are already popular puffins.). PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS EVENT WILL BE SUBJECT TO WHATEVER COVID RESTRICTIONS ARE IN PLACE AT THE TIME Join our ten-day event in Caithness, … …ever wondered why puffins and other auks flap their wings so fast? The first kind is when you see them through binoculars from above and if you were to get any closer you would kill yourself by falling a very long way into the sea. A short walk from the lighthouse car park and you will reach one of Britain's best sea-bird colonies. At that point the visitor will say ‘So where are the puffins?’ Small wonder the guillemots get jealous. To be honest – and this is as much to do with geology as anything else – it isn’t until you are seriously up north that you get into a few ‘stroll up to them and snap a cutesy picture’ situations. Anyway, puffinoidal hotspots in Orkney include, Westray, Papa Westray and Copinsay, plus a few at Marwick Head. Northern Sands Hotel. There they are, all these auks, doing their best to be entertaining – and all you want to see is the guy with that strap-on stupid beak? It’s also close to Duncansby Head and John O’Groats and makes for a good base to explore the North. Really enjoyed a walk around the cliffs here. And don’t get too hung up on just puffins. And do you know, she just took these with her phone? If in the area its a must! The total figure for Scotland should include not only those in the Shiants but colonies on St Kilda, Bass Rock, St. Abbs Head, Duncansby Head, Faraid Head, and Lunga. We saw them on our walk to the Sea Stacks at Duncansby Head as well as at the Whaligoe Steps. Your cuddly friends with the clown-face prefer to keep their domestic affairs out of sight. Being a puffin in Scotland is probably a deadly serious business, what with the sandeel shortages and all that burrowing playing havoc with the plumage in the breeding season. So they’ve had to compromise. John O Groats is not the most exciting place so at least this is something worth seeing while you are there! Duncansby Head is one of the best places to see puffins in Caithness. Anyway, we call the most common species of auk a guillemot, the name deriving from a diminutive version of the French name Guillaume (William). Tucked away around the corner from John O’Groats, with its famous sea stacks, Duncansby head is a heaven for sea birds. Duncansby Head: Stacks and Puffins - See 685 traveller reviews, 597 candid photos, and great deals for John O'Groats, UK, at Tripadvisor. Puffin places on the Scottish coasts…All right. The area is popular with visitors due to the number of seabirds that thrive in the area, with the adorable puffin frequently see … The stacks were majestic and the walk to them was fairly short. So, to conclude, I’d say it should be straightforward to nail your puffins, so long as you come between, say, April – but not too early – and August. Shetland is also extremely puffinized. (Oh, wait. Flightless, this penguin-like Northern Hemisphere bird was ruthlessly exploited for food and persecuted to extinction. Duncansby . Why? And, yes, they are surprisingly tame when you get close. This is a basic 3-star accommodation in Dunnet that includes parking and breakfast. The last encounter with a breeding pair was in 1844 on Eldey, off south-west Iceland. Admit it, you just like puffins? There’s the visitor. Eider […] Sounds like a lot of hard work. The stacks of Duncansby, in the far north of mainland Scotland and an easy walk from the lighthouse at Duncansby Head. The Duncansby Stacks lie just off the shore of Duncansby Head on the most northeastern point of mainland Britain. First I want to make a plea for their cousins, the rest of the auk tribe. Well, of course you do if the little beast wanders up to you and looks cute. You won’t find any outside that time frame. Take a walk from John o’Groats to Duncansby Head, the most north-easterly point on the British mainland, and continue along the coast to see the two dramatic pointed sea stacks.During puffin breeding season, which is from late-spring to early summer, you should keep an … This one’s just caught a fish. Nobody ever drooled over a black guillemot, but I like ’em. If crossing north over the Scottish Border on the east side, then St Abb’s Head is just a few minutes away. Keen on birds? For Staffa, the Isle of Mull is a good base to stay. Just scan these auks pattering away from the bow-wash. Puffins respond to increasing light levels and put on their breeding dress – they’re much more drab out at sea in the winter. Nearby Dunnet Head is the RSPB’s largest reserve in the UK where you can see puffins, razorbills, guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes, shags and cormorants. Highly recommend! Lighthouses in John O'Groats; Farms in John O'Groats; Points of Interest & Landmarks in John O'Groats; Lookouts in John O'Groats; Popular John O'Groats Categories These towering sea stacks are believed to have stood in this position for the last 6000 years, slowly eroding away due to the raw power of the North Sea. Learn more in my post on the best place to see Puffins in Scotland. Then the great auk was gone for ever. Duncansby Head and Stacks are located approximately 5 miles along the coast from John o’ Groats and are the true most-northerly point of mainland Britain. - See 684 traveler reviews, 597 candid photos, and great deals for John O'Groats, UK, at Tripadvisor. By this time the inspection yacht was in the Firth of Clyde. Duncansby Head is the furthest point by road, on the north/east coast, from Lands End, down in Cornwall, being a good mile or two further on than the nearby John O'Groats. Further resources See how to drive to the Puffin Cove from Reay, Caithness. (Another place where you can stroll up to them , though slowly and carefully and with respect, as noted above.). They leave the burrow for good, heading out to start their sea-going lives. So, auks and puffins have a high wing-loading factor – little wings useful for swimming but you have to work them hard to get airborne. They feed them up to give them fat reserves and then leave them to it. Sometimes they wheel around in great flocks. At it's very tip is situated the Duncansby Head Lighthouse, built in 1924 and fully automated in 1997. *Researchers say that the ‘divorce rate’ amongst puffins is between 7-13% – so that’s nice for them. They nest in screes and rocky places. Well, of course you do if the little birdie wanders up to you and looks cute.”. We were lucky as visited when the huge number of seabirds were nesting on the most amazing cliffs. So there’s no point in scanning the vertical rock-faces where they’d need little puffinous pick-axes to make holes in the first place. Take a walk from John o’Groats to Duncansby Head, the most north-easterly point on the British mainland, and continue along the coast to see the two dramatic pointed sea stacks.During puffin breeding season, which is from late-spring to early summer, you should keep an … Anyway, back in puffin world, yes, keep an eye on auks on the water. I got some of these statistics from a book called The Seabird’s Cry, by Adam Nicholson. Stunning views of the seabirds nesting. Muckle Skerry is an island of Orkney located seven kilometers northeast of Duncansby Head. These are home to puffins, razorbills, guillemots and fulmars. It’s possible that puffins live even longer than that. But your approach to them isn’t as easy as, say, the quite famous ones at Faraid Head … It’s just a sample really. Sure, they’ll pose about on rocks but, in the main, they’re usually a little aside from the main throng and nearly always in smaller numbers. We saw them on our walk to the Sea Stacks at Duncansby Head as well as at the Whaligoe Steps. Imagine that, some puffin has got to fly and then dive even further for food for the chick, just so someone can give their indulged mutt a treat. Birds species include fulmars, guillemots, razorbills, puffins, kittiwakes, great skuas and arctic skuas. Now sit up at the back and pay attention. It’s a black guillemot. The parents mooch about for a while in the colony, possibly doing the odd high-five. Johanna once heard a CalMac skipper singing out ‘minke whales on the starboard bow’ on the ship’s PA system.). Royal Yacht Britannia – Scotland’s best attraction? Ironically, one of the first results I found for it showed it in a small pack, being sold as dog-food. Every spring my sister and I take a walk to Duncansby Head to see the seabirds nesting. You’ll either love this or just want to slap the author. Duncansby Head: Puffins! Here are tips on where to see puffins in Scotland. Anyway, as I see you are still reading, then here are plenty of puffinous facts – just so you can be totally auk-aware. While the rest of the group were looking at the basalt columns, Johanna went off looking for puffins. Several places on the western seaboard are also puffin hotspots. Take a walk from John o’Groats to Duncansby Head, the most north-easterly point on the British mainland, and continue along the coast to see the two dramatic pointed sea stacks.During puffin breeding season, which is from late-spring to early summer, you should keep an … You think you know what a puffin looks like? At voyage end, before it was donated as a specimen to the Museum at Edinburgh University, it was given one last swim. Anyway, these other auks are comfortable in big numbers, nesting side by side on these shelves and ledges, sometimes also in company with that sea-going delicate-looking gull, the kittiwake. Fulmars float by superciliously looking down their tube noses at you. It’s a wildlife haven home to puffins, seals, razorbills and much more. Then they take off their orange makeup, hang up their fancy beaks, lock up the burrow for another year and head seawards too. Pictured here) Tentative puffin sketch, done while hanging over the edge of this huge precipice…you don’t believe that bit, do you? It’s a relatively flat, pleasant walk and most of your company is more likely to be sheep or some of the Scottish wildlife than fellow tourists. In the cliffs many rare seabirds nest, including the puffins. Trip Advisor / Booking.com. Same applies if you are casually puffin-spotting from the rail of, say, a CalMac or Northlink ferry. It’s 45 minutes from Dunnet Head, but it is a castle! I think I’ve cropped out the razorbills.) (Good place for puffins too.) The second kind of experience, much sought after by puffinaphiliacs, is where you can, literally, stroll up to the birds. Because – and I’ve seen it myself so often – picture this scene. Puffins are always to be found close to or on the sea. (What’s capelin? https://outaboutscotland.com/where-to-see-puffins-in-scotland You might even get to like guillemots and other Scottish birds. But you’re not an especially avid birdwatcher? Duncansby Head: Tickets & Tours Puffin Croft Petting Farm & Farm Shop: Tickets & Tours ... We recommend booking Duncansby Head tours ahead of time to secure your spot. Only joking about the last one. The last ever sighting was in 1852. There’s a lot of other interesting stuff going on along the seaboard. Most importantly, though you may hear puffins give a kind of deep yet nervous laugh, this does not give them a sense of humour. Here we go. (There can be no other explanation if you’ve gone this far down the page.) (Sometimes they aren’t as easy to spot as you might think.) If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your tour starts for a full refund. What’s wrong with finely chopped liver?). 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