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Auks Photographed in their Breeding Colonies on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Puffins, razorbills and guillemots are part of the Alcidae (Auks) family, which belongs to the Charadriiformes order of seabirds of birds. I photographed three species of auks in their breeding colonies on the island of Skomer along with many other species such as Manx shearwater, fulmars and gulls. Skomer is a small island just off the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales, managed by the Wild Life Trust of South and West Wales.

The auks featured in the galleries are all ocean going birds spending the winter in the northern Atlantic, they come ashore to nest.

In the 2015 the IUCN categorisation of the Atlantic puffin was raised to Vulnerable. In the European region it is assessed as Endangered and in the European Union region Near Threatened. It was previously listed at Least Concern [2012]. During the nineties they were all IUCN listed least concern.

Atlantic Puffins

The images are from visits I made to Skomer Island during June or July in 1993, 1994 and 1995. On each visit I stayed for several nights taking the early boat on Saturday morning and leaving on the last boat on Tuesday or Wednesday. There are no day visitors on Mondays so apart for the wardens and volunteers we had the island to ourselves.

Puffins are one of my favourite birds and surprising inquisitive and friendly. I've spent many an hour at photographing them at The Wick on Skomer where they burrow close to the path and even under it. Sometimes in the evening puffins have congregated in groups around me. Puffins eat small fish such as sand eels and during the breeding season each parent makes several trips to sea to bring back a beak full of fish for their chicks. Lesser black-backed gulls wait in the colonies hoping to steal fish while the greater black-backed gulls will predate adult puffins on the wing.

The images are digital scans from original positives mostly captured on Kodachrome 64, a few on Agfa CT200 and one on Ektachrome EC100.

Atlantic Razorbills and Guillemots

Razorbills and guillemots were more difficult to photograph than the puffins, shearwater and gulls as they both nest in less accessible areas; razorbills often nest in crevices on cliffs and guillemots in large colonies on cliffs. Both Razorbills and guillemots eat similar food to puffins - fish.

In the 2015 the IUCN changed the razorbill categorisation near threatened.

Featured Auks, Charadriiformes order

Alcidae (Auks) family:

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) [VU]

Razorbill (Alca torda) [NT]

Guillemot (Cepphus grille)

Abbreviations

IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature

IUCN Red List Category: [VU] Vulnerable, [NT] Near Threatened

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), with sand-eels, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), flying with sand-eels, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1995 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), with sand-eels, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), with sand-eels, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1993 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), Breading Plumage, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), with sand-eels, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), gathering nest material, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), emerging from burrow, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), with sand-eels, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Razorbill (Alca torda), Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Razorbill (Alca torda), Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Razorbill (Alca torda), Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1994 Guillemot (Cepphus grille), High density nest colony, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1993