Puffins on Lunga Island

Puffins on Lunga Island

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

When Is the Best Time

Lunga Island is the puffin paradise. It is unbelievable that these cute guys let you come close. They are not at least afraid of you just continuing their business. The puffin breeding season on the Isle of Lunga (one of the Treshnish Isles) starts in the middle of April. To make sure to have thousands of them on Lunga Island to spot, I recommend a visit not before May. They stay on this island until the beginning of August.

Lonely puffin and the sea in back

For your trip planning, please check my monthly puffin and weather overview with details for spring and summer for the Isle of Lunga below. 

Puffin Sightings | Lunga Island

Puffins on Lunga in the grass

  • April - First Sightings
    It's possible but rare to see puffins in spring before mid-April. Although not the greatest time, you usually spot them from mid-April on. However, sometimes they even arrive later in April. Experts say: Early to mid-April, sometimes later.
     
  • May - June - July Best Time
    Late spring and early summer is the best time to visit Lunga. You spot a huge number of these cute puffins close.
     
  • August - End of Season
    Be careful as they stay on the island only until early August. Sometimes slightly longer. I wouldn't risk visiting later than in the early days of August if at all.
     
  • September - March - No Sightings
    No puffins are on the island during these months, from autumn until early spring.

Puffins on Lunga on grass at their burrows

I went to Lunga at the end of June, and besides puffins, I saw chicks from the guillemot, razorbill, and shag. The puffin chicks are hiding in the burrows, and you may encounter them only when they leave the nest.

Weather from May - July

May and June are the driest months of the year, increasing rainfall in July though still less precipitation than the rest of the year. The average day temperature is 14°C and can top 20°C on sunny days as well. A windproof jacket and a fleece pullover are recommended for the boat tour. On windy days, the sea is rough and choppy. The island is open for the elements so be prepared.

 

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Where to Stay (Lodging Tip)

Your best bet is to stay in Oban. Actually, to get to the Hebrides (Islands), you need to go through Oban, the main ferry port!  There are lovely B&B's. My favourite one with the very best location is Glenburnie House dating from the 19th century.

Booking.com

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Scotland, Argyll and Bute, Treshnish Isles - Isle of Lunga
United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Lunga Island the largest of the Treshnish Isles and a photographers and birdwatchers dream. There are thousands of puffins and guillemots. The guillemots are nesting on a huge rock opposite Lunga. You can't miss them, follow the noise. Also, razorbill and shags are common here, but the population is much smaller.

Getting to Lunga

Oban Port and Town Center

You can either book a tour in Oban or from one of the islands. Usually, Lunga is combined with Staffa and Fingal's Cave. 

Fingal's Cave on Staffa nearby Lunga

Our group spent two hours on Lunga, and IMO, this was too short. The time was running too fast on Lunga watching puffins coming back to their burrows, some building their nests. Depending on what you want to experience, there are combined tours and just birding tours offered. Tour operator Staffa Tours

Must-Know Tips

  • Book the trip in advance, but only a couple of days because of the unpredictable weather.
  • Check the weather forecast before booking. Rain and strong wind can spoil your trip. 
  • Don't forget to bring a wind- and rainproof jacket, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Fascinating Birds on Lunga Island

Puffin

Puffin building a nest

Puffin couples stay together for life. They start to breed when they are about 5-6 years old and often live for 20 years. Puffins lay only one single egg in burrows. Parents incubate it for 36-45 days and another 34-60 days for fledging. The fledging period is depending on the area and year. They have short wings that are good for flying, reaching 50 mph and good for swimming/diving up to 60 meters deep to catch fish, especially sandeel. The sandeel is rich in nutrition and has a huge impact on breeding success and survival. The main predators are gulls and peregrine falcons. Puffins lose their bright beak and eye ornamentation in winter, but it grows again in early spring for courtship.

Guillemot


There is a huge colony of guillemots that are closely related to the Puffin. They also lay one single egg. Here it is, the father taking care of the chicks for about two months; the mother remains for two weeks only. They can dive more than 30 meters deep to catch fish. When you reach a massive rock at the end of the trail, you can already hear the Guillemots' loud noise.

Razorbill


The razorbill is also a species of the Auk family-like puffins and guillemot. Also, they lay one single egg. They can dive very deep, more than 100 meters but usually around 25 meters. Their beaks are wider white stripe rum from the eye to beak.

Shag


The shag is similar to cormorants but smaller with a thinner beak. Their breeding season is from June to August. The shag dives at least 45 meters deep and has the same preferred food as the puffin.

Foodie Tip

Seafood Stall - The Green Shack at Oban port

At Oban port is the best seafood stall of all located. Don't miss this exceptional seafood meal after your trip to Lunga.

 

I took these pictures with my Olympus OM-D10 and Panasonic Zoom lens 100-300. I was quite close to the birds but not too close to disturb them. 

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I love adventurous trips and my husband…