A near escape

IMG_6860Anyone who has been around puffins (= my favorite seabirds) knows that they don’t have an easy life, especially because of their main natural predators — the lazy, greedy and opportunistic seagulls.

IMG_6862I have seen gulls pull puffins out of their burrows, trying to make them drop their hard-earned mouthful of fish. And I have seen them chase fish-bearing puffins all around the colony. Some of these “pulls and chases” are successful, and the gulls end up swallowing their stolen goods…but others are not, thanks to the stubbornness of the puffin parents, desperate to feed their growing chicks.

Luckily, I have never seen a gull actually kill (and eat) a puffin…and yes, that happens…

Anyway, I thought I’d post three photos documenting a scene I witnessed last week on Skokholm Island (where I took almost 3000 photos!).

The photos show a herring gull attacking a puffin in an attempt to steal its dinner (well, probably its chick’s dinner). This is a common sight on Skokholm Island where the gulls, mainly herring gulls, hang around puffin burrows, waiting to attack the fish-bearing puffins that have just returned from the sea. IMG_6863

In this particular case, I am happy to note that the heroic puffin managed to fly off with its entire load of fish, after a very brief struggle. No harm done this time…

I apologize for the poor quality of these photos, but, as you can tell, my camera is not a professional one…

Still, it will give you an idea of what happened…