Atlantic Puffin at Runde, Norway

I’m sure you’ve heard me talking about the saxon ScopePix before – it’s a little jigger that attaches your phone to a telescope or pair of binoculars. I certainly could have used them for this!

This morning, Facebook reminded me of a photo I took exactly ten years ago. In 2009 I was living in Bergen in Norway and I’d promised myself that I’d twitch a Puffin before I left. Eventually I bit the bullet and set out. I flew to Ålesund, then hired a car and took a series of ferries to reach an island called Runde.

Runde is an incredible place. It’s essentially a mountain sticking out of the sea off Norway’s rugged west coast. At the right time of year, it’s alive with seabirds. Of course, it’s bit of a Mecca for birdwatchers.

I spent the night at a hostel there and next morning, I started out. Half way up I “encountered” an angry Great Skua, who not-too-subtly suggested that I should steer clear of its nest. A bird that large and that aggressive is very intimidating, so I hurried on.


Climbing the mountain is no small hike, and a bit scary in parts – at one stage I had to scale a cliff using this rickety wooden ladder you can see. 

At the top, on the northern end of the island is a large Gannet colony, so I sat there for a while and had my lunch.

Oh, and if you’ve ever spent time at a seabird colony, you won’t forget that smell.

Later in the afternoon I went down the slope to the place where the Puffins come in. Puffins behave a little like Little Penguins, they gather in rafts just off shore, and scouts come into the rookery to check it’s all OK. Most of the adults come in after sunset, so photographing them can be difficult.

I was armed with my Nikon 8.5x56 binoculars, and – this is true – my daughter’s Barbie brand toy digital camera. I didn’t have anything like the saxon ScopePix, so I just had to hold the camera at the back of the binoculars and blaze away. Most of the shots didn’t turn out.

But you can see that the ones that did turn out weren’t all that bad.