Posted by: photographytuition | March 2, 2012

Bird photography on Skomer Island

Skomer is a small, beautiful island in  Pembrokeshire, West Wales. It’s a haven for hundreds of thousands of seabirds and a photographers delight.

Puffin. Scanned from 35mm slide film using an Epson perfection V330 photo scanner.

I’ve been going there for over 30 years and was a volunteer assistant warden for a while. I’ve visited many beautiful islands around the world but Skomer is still one of my favourites.

Best time to visit?

Spring and early summer – basically the time when the seabirds arrive to make their nests and have their young. It’s also a good time for the wild flowers – catch the fantastic bluebells in May.

Razorbill. Scanned from 35mm.

What can you see?

Huge colonies of Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins. Also gulls, owls, choughs etc. There are also hundreds of thousands of Shearwater but these only come out at night – overnight stays on Skomer are possible and highly recommended. Google ‘Skomer’ for further information.

Puffin. Scanned from 35mm.

It’s also possible to see seals and a surprising number of porpoises around Skomer. I’ve also seen a few dustbin lid shaped fish called Sunfish.

Shag. Scanned from 35mm.

What camera gear will you need?

A 70-300mm lens is probably the most useful if you’re hoping to photograph puffins. They nest in old rabbit burrows which are often very close to the footpath giving you good, close up views. For cliff nesting birds like the Kittiwakes, Guillemots  and  Razorbills a much longer lens is necessary.

Note on the photographs.

All the photos were taken on 35mm transparency film and then scanned into digital using an Epson perfection V330 photo scanner (price around £85). The results are poor – maybe I should have used a specialist scanning company or spent a bit more on the scanner.

If  you would like to talk to me about bird photography email will@phonecoop.coop or if you are interested in learning the techniques for photographing birds and would like to go on a photography course see www.photographytuition.co.uk

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