Puffins at Fowlsheugh

Despite living in the north east of Scotland for several years, at the beginning of 2015 we still had 'see a puffin' on our bucket list. So when Leslie spotted that the RSPB were running Pick Out A Puffin walks at the Fowlsheugh Reserve, just south of Stonehaven, we were pretty quick to sign up.

It was a beautiful evening with bright sunshine and a blustery westerly wind that proved to be almost perfect for these east facing cliffs. Once everyone had assembled at the reserve entrance we got a quick introduction from the RSPB volunteer before setting off along the cliff top path.

The spectacle at Fowlsheugh unfolds as you head into the reserve, the cliffs becoming more and more impressive the further north you go. We stopped every so often to take a look out to sea where kittiwakes were gathering in large numbers on the water. They would occasionally lift off as a group, resettling a short distance away. The volunteer informed us that there have been plenty of sightings of dolphin and minke whales from the cliffs here.

There were also plenty of opportunities to look down on the cliffs which were teeming with nesting birds. We were soon able to pick out guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes from the assembled crowds, and were even given a better appreciation for the herring gull.

We wound our way around the various small inlets and headlands until we came to the most impressive panorama of cliffs and sea, stretching north beyond the crenelations of Dunnotor to Stonehaven bay.

Here we finally got to see what everyone had been waiting for as the first puffin was spotted. Soon binoculars were trained on the cliffs and people got their first views. It was brilliant and soon a pair of puffins had appeared on the nose of the next headland providing lots of views clear against the dark blue background of the sea.

Another volunteer had brought along their spotting scope and everyone got a good chance to look in detail at another pair of puffins which had settled down on the cliff below us.

It was fantastic to watch the birds going about their business as the sun slowly sank towards the horizon. One by one people headed off and finally we were the only ones left, still utterly delighted to be puffin watching just a short drive away from home. Eventually though we too headed back to the car after a very successful evening.