Join award-winning wildlife photographer Bret Charman on the island of Skomer for a three-day trip to photograph charismatic puffins and Manx shearwaters at the height of the breeding season.
The Atlantic puffin is one of the most photogenic seabirds, and Skomer is the perfect place to build a portfolio of images of this seabird. Spending three full days on the island (with two nights accommodation) allows us to escape the throng of day visitors and photograph these attractive birds without disturbance. The birds are particularly nonchalant about human presence and go about their daily business unconcerned, which provides a plethora of superb photographic opportunities.
As well seeing as puffins, there will also be a chance to witness the phenomenon of Manx shearwaters arriving as darkness falls. Around 70,000 birds arrive after sunset to find their breeding burrows, a magical experience that can only be experienced when overnighting on the island.
Read Bret's blog from his latest trip to photograph Skomer's puffins
Day1: Ferry to Skomer; start photographing puffins
Meet at Martins Haven in time for a morning ferry to Skomer Island. After dropping our baggage at our accommodation and a briefing from the warden, we set off in search of puffins, which come and go along the cliff tops all day long as they return from fishing trips, providing a plethora of photographic opportunities. As the light starts to fade and day visitors return to the mainland the warm evening light is superb for photography. You can spend as much - or as little - time as you wish photographing birds, with Bret on hand to advise on technique and help whenever needed.
At the end of a busy day we can enjoy the wonderful spectacle of Manx shearwaters returning to their nesting burrows, before heading back to our accommodation for dinner and bed.
To make the most of your stay we recommend you join Bret on an early photo session as the puffins leave their burrows for another day’s fishing. As the first day visitors have yet to arrive, the photography is unhindered and the birds suffer minimum disturbance.
We can continue to photograph throughout the day, or alternatively just relax and enjoy this island escape.
In the afternoon and evening, we recommend you try varying styles using different techniques. However you wish to spend the evening – whether taking intimate portraits, in-flight shots, or puffins in the landscape – there should be opportunities to tick all the boxes. You can choose whether you want to watch the shearwaters again, or have an early night. Bret will be around in the evening to discuss digital darkroom techniques.
Day3: Early morning and afternoon puffin photography
On our last day on the island there is still plenty of time to add further images to a growing portfolio. There will be an opportunity for another early start, for anyone who wishes, to try and optimise the soft morning light and the absence of day visitors.
After a final early morning session it is time to pack our bags for this afternoon’s departure and have breakfast. The morning can be spent relaxing at our accommodation, or perhaps enjoying a gentle stroll around the island, photographing at leisure. If, however, you’re still keen to capture more images, you can work your way around the outside of the island and photograph puffins to your heart’s content.
After lunch, we make our way down to the ferry for the return trip to Martins Haven.
You should note: We are a licensed operator with the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust which allows us the opportunity to book overnight accommodation on the island.
Duration and price excluding international flights: 3 daysfrom £495 pp
Group size: 6
When to go: May-Jun
Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
Bret is an award-winning wildlife photographer with a background in the wildlife travel and safari industry.
After spending a year in Australia to pursue wildlife photography, he was rewarded with success at the prestigious Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition, as well as making the shortlist in Bird Photographer of the Year and Outdoor Photographer of the Year. Bret has experience leading groups in Europe, the Americas and in Africa – and has a real passion for African wildlife in particular.
Skomer Island - Ynys Sgomer in Welsh - is situated off the lovely Pembrokeshire coast, and is famed for its wildlife. Some 50% of the world population of Manx shearwaters nests here, and the colony of Atlantic puffins is the largest in southern Britain, while its one unique mammal - the Skomer vole - is endemic.
Ideal for viewing: Atlantic puffin, Manx shearwater, short-eared owl, Skomer vole, grey seal
Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Birdwatching
The old farm buildings at the heart of Skomer Island have been thoroughly refurbished to provide simple hostel-style self-catering accommodation for visitors and researchers from April through until October - an overnight stay allows guests to explore in peace after day visitors have returned to the mainland.