OFFICIAL WILDLIFE TRUST & SKOMER ISLAND COMMERCIAL OPERATOR
Join Pembrokeshire’s award winning landscape and wildlife photographer Drew Buckley on a photography workshop visiting one of Britain’s finest island habitats and it’s enigmatic wildlife. This Skomer Island Puffin Photography Day will take place on Skomer Island; the best place to get up close and personal to its charismatic summer visitor, the Puffin. We’ll visit and walk around the whole island seeing everything that the island in summer has to offer. From the swathes of pink Thrift and carpets of Bluebells, to hundreds of Puffins and seabirds flying around you, there’s really no better place to spend a day!
The workshop will begin early in the morning at Martins Haven National Trust car park. We will gather here and make our way down to the Lodge to collect our landing tickets for the island. Walking down towards the bay we’ll board the boat for the short sea crossing to the island. Finally out in the open water, breathing in the fresh sea air and the grassy lump that is Skomer Island looms ever closer. On approaching Skomer’s North Haven (where the boat lands) you’ll be greeted by not only the odd Gull hitching a lift on the boat cab, but rafts and rafts of Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots in the surrounding waters.
Landing on Skomer and taking the steep (!) steps up to the greeting point you’ll pass nesting burrows of Puffins and Razorbills giving you some very, very up close views of these beautiful seabirds. It’s funny, with most wildlife photography you’ve never got quite enough lens reach but with the Skomer seabirds, it’s more the opposite way around! Here, the warden (or one of the great volunteers) will give you a brief talk about the island and explaining what to see, where to see it and also where to and to not go, and more importantly where the toilets are! There’s only a few main footpaths on Skomer. From the air in simple terms, Skomer is like a squashed circle with a footpath going from north to south, a footpath west to east and also one that goes right around the island with the crossing point in the middle. Here you’ll find the main farm building, toilets, self catering accommodation and the only shelter on the island if there’s any inclement weather.
We’ll head west up to the farm looking out for birds and also keeping a keen eye on the stone wall to your left as here is where the Skomer Little Owls nest. They’re extremely well camouflaged and tend to hang around here in the daytime feeding on bugs and small birds. Travelling north will take you through North Haven, here there’s a few pairs of resident Short Eared Owls and they can be seen flying to and from here and Gorse Hill to the south of the farm. They solely feed on the endemic Skomer Vole, a unique sub species of vole only found to reside on Skomer. This part of the island you’ll be able to get some lovely bluebell images (if you time your visit right) as they carpet most of the north valley.
We’ll then head to the part where everyone comes to see, called The Wick. This horse shoe shaped, sheer cliff face is home to Skomer’s six thousand pairs of Puffin and also various other seabirds making their homes on the rocky ledges. The terrain here is completely covered with rabbit burrows in which the Puffins nest and in peak season the activity in this small section is immense. The sky is filled with birds whirling in circles catching the updrafts from the Irish Sea beneath. Thankfully there’s plenty of places here to stop and sit down to admire the view.
Puffins land literally feet away from you diving straight into their burrows; beaks filled to the brim with Sand Eels trying to strive off an attack from the hungry Great Black-Backed Gulls that try to ambush them on their return. You won’t be regretting not bringing ‘that’ lens with you here because whatever you have in your bag, you’ll fill the frame with it – they’re that close! There’s so many different shots to get here. Intimate portraits, close-up details, group shots and my favourite; birds in flight. Bird in flight photography is always one of those great challenges as a photographer and also can be one of the most rewarding.
We’ll aim to spend the majority of our limited time on the island here, giving you the best opportunities to try all possible images out with the Puffins. From close up portraits, to the trickier in flight images. I will be with the group throughout the afternoon in the hide giving advice and helping with any questions you may have. We’ll review images every now and then to make sure you’re getting the best out of the workshop and to also make any changes to camera settings that may arise. I will have my camera with me as well, so I can demonstrate different techniques and settings if needed. We’ll then head back east going along the bottom paths of the island taking in more seabirds, Fulmar and Kittiwake nest around here before meeting back at the landing point ready for the boat back.
As you will find out on a the workshop, you really are spoilt for choice on Skomer with the amount of diversity on offer. Either way I’m sure you’ll come away with some fantastic memories and images.
This workshop is designed for single person up to a group size of 3 delegates max - on busy weeks, bookings will be grouped together.
What to Expect
Puffins and seabirds in the thousands! You can basically sit next to time, so you’ll get some great close up views. There’s a constant whirl of birds at the Wick flying past will test your photography tracking skills. Bluebell lined paths in Spring, Little Owls, Flora and fauna all over the island, Guillemots, Razorbills, Short Eared Owl just to name a few.
Recommended Photography Equipment
Digital SLR camera or good Bridge camera with zoom. Wide angle for landscapes, telephotos for Puffins and birds close to paths and longer lenses for Owls and birds on cliff edges. Lenses up to 300mm or 500mm ideally. Fully charged batteries and spares, plenty of memory cards as you’ll be surprised how many photos you take!
What to Bring
This is an island just off the Welsh coast in the Irish Sea so expect changeable weather. Sturdy walking boots as although the paths are well worn and well maintained, they aren’t the flattest. Waterproofs if the weather turns and a hat and sun cream if it’s nice. There are no refreshments on the island so you will need to bring your own packed lunch and drinks with you. You are free to bring whatever equipment you wish but please note you will have to carry it around yourself all day and also be able to get on and off the boat without assistance/blocking passageways.
The workshop is aimed at most levels of photographic experience, and most delegates will come away with good images of the birds. The workshop includes a guide through using the best camera settings and techniques for conditions on the day. I will cover choosing the correct auto focus mode and settings, selecting the right shutter speed and camera settings on full manual mode, together with tracking and panning techniques for bird in flight photography. I will also cover choosing the right birds to look out for and identifying behaviour and when to anticipate the action, such as diving. I welcome those who are just starting out, or those who are experienced in bird photography looking to improve their images.
This workshop is suitable for intermediate levels of fitness. There are some inclines and declines when landing on the island, including a steep set of steps and long incline upto the farm. Also getting on and off the boat can be precarious depending on sea state. On the island there are about four miles of well maintained paths, some parts there’s quite a few elevation changes over uneven ground and some boggy sections. Generally easy going if you take your time.
Full professional tuition and guidance throughout the workshop.
Cover correct camera setting and techniques, composition and using the available light to help you get the very best from the afternoon.
Boat and landing fee.
What’s not included
Food and Drink.
Transport to and from the venue.
Personal and Accident Insurance.
Workshops are run from :
Mid April to mid July on Tuesday to Fridays
09:20 Welcome and head down to the bay.
10:00 Depart for Skomer Island
15:00 Return from Skomer Island
15:20 Summary and close
(Timings are estimates and can change depending on allocated landing times)
The boat crossing is subject to weather conditions and workshops may be cancelled or return times changed at short notice. Please read all Terms & Conditions found on this page before booking.
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Read my reviews - View the samples - Choose your purchase options and availability calendar
Don't take my word for it, here's what my clients say
Drew is an excellent guide, as I found out when I spent a day on Skomer Island with him. His local knowledge and experience helped me achieve all my photographic goals for the day! Drew’s camera skills and knowledge are spot on and I would recommend him to anyone wanting to explore the Pembrokeshire coast.Stuart
This workshop was different and amazingly good value and I would recommend Drew to anyone who travels to the UK who needs some help in locations and photography settings. I really had a great time and Drew was an excellent coach and extremely helpful.David
Drew is an excellent guide and great company, making for an enjoyable day. He was encouraging throughout the workshop and offered advice on composition, settings and positioning. I came away with plenty of images of Puffins but most importantly I fulfilled my objective of enjoying a day of wildlife photography.Jason
Booking a Workshop
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Please read terms & conditions below before booking - click the headings to expand the sections
Confirmation of Booking.
A reservation is confirmed once full payment is received. I will then confirm your booking in writing typically via email.
Changes to the day.
Drew Buckley reserves the right to change the details, itinerary or date of any Workshop due to unforeseen circumstances or events beyond Drew Buckley’s control. Any significant changes will be notified to in writing. If the revised workshop date offered doesn't suit the delegates plans then an alternative date or refund will be offered.
Drew Buckley cannot be held responsible for the absence or “no show” of animals or birds, nor cloudy or poor weather on workshops
Please advise Drew Buckley at the time of booking of any special requests such as diet or physical impairment. Drew Buckley reserves the right to refuse to take a delegate if such a special request has not been notified at the time of booking.
Drew Buckley will not be held responsible for any loss or damage to personal items or for any personal injury or accident. Delegates are respectfully reminded that our activities could potentially entail risk or danger and all activities are ENTERED INTO AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Delegates should ensure the appropriate insurance cover is in place.
The venues and locations for Drew Buckley’s Workshops have no (or limited) medical facilities. Therefore please inform us of any health issues and ensure you take your own medication with the appropriate insurance in place in case of emergency.
Drew Buckley strongly recommends you make our own insurance arrangements against trip cancellation and curtailment, accidental death and disability, emergency medical evacuation, medical expenses, loss of personal effects and other loss or injury as per a commercially available travel insurance policy
Cancellation By Drew Buckley:
Drew Buckley reserves the right to cancel any Workshop at any time. Typically the workshops will run in all weathers and each delegate should ensure that they have the correct all weather clothing suitable to the conditions and each delegate is responsible for the well being of their equipment and personal effects. Most times however if weather forecast looks to be poor, Drew Buckley will get in touch to make other arrangements.
In the case of trips where we are dependent upon vehicles (land, sea and air) not owned by Drew Buckley then any decision regarding transportation is at the behest of the service provider and any decision made by them as to the safety of our group is final and indisputable i.e. In the case of the Skomer Island day trip, should the boat be unable to leave the harbour for Skomer Island, Drew Buckley will offer an alternative date to join onto another Skomer day workshop. The delegate can choose if they wish to partake, if not, a full refund for the Workshop will be given. The captain’s decision to sail is final and indisputable.
If, for whatever reason, Drew Buckley needs to cancel a Workshop, then an alternative date will be sought (within 12 months of booking) or full refund of monies paid by you to Drew Buckley will be made. However, Drew Buckley accepts no further liability outside of the cost of the course. Any additional costs incurred outside the cost of the course including but not limited to transportation and accommodation will not be covered by Drew Buckley.
Cancellation By The Delegate.
If the delegate is a “no show”, then no refund to the delegate is applicable.
Once a booking is made all fees are not refundable under any circumstances.
Or if you do have a date in mind, view the availability calendar and register your reservation day.
The more people who attend, the cheaper it becomes so grab a friend or two, for an enjoyable day out with your camera.
Important! My Skomer Island Puffin Photography Days are not available to book on Saturday, Sunday or Mondays
Between mid May - mid July when the birds are present on the island
Have any questions or queries about the workshop? Feel free to get in touch using the contact form below