Puffinorama

Without fanfare, Newfoundland exhibits stunning wildlife, physical geology, and flora day-to-day. We have encountered very few Americans in Newfoundland, yet the experience rivals any of the beauty, history, and scientific interest of iconic U.S. National Parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Glacier.

In the next three posts we will cover Puffinorama, Whaleorama, and Rockorama (geology) in Newfoundland.

In one day – on the Bonavista peninsula of Newfoundland – we had a complete overload of seabirds, whales, and physical beauty.

As these photos and videos illustrate, we were up-close to a puffin reserve (along with many other seabirds) in Elliston NL. We were fortunate to see a reserve that could be accessed on land. Photographers are camped out and we learned quickly the protocol for how close you can get to the puffins: no noise, no dogs, etc.

 

The colony is massive, though not as big as a nearby reserve in Witless Bay (accessible by boat) that is reported to account for 60 percent of the breeding pairs in North America. They create elaborate colonies using burrows of their own making — or in some places taken over from rabbits.When on land they are breeding and protecting their young.

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Puffins display comical, anthropomorphic, and whimsical behaviors – similar to the behavior and popularity that penquins enjoy in our culture. They are characters. They display brilliant colors and contrasts. They are photogenic. They are curious. Their stamina and robustness is epic.

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To be honest, puffins are not the most graceful fliers or walkers. Some of their landings look more like crashes than landings. They plod gingerly from place to place on land. This is partly because they are simultaneously designed for flight, underwater fishing, as well as living on land and water for extended periods. Sort of like a warthog airplane, not a F-35. They are superbly adapted to swimming and fishing underwater, yet can launch at 400 beats a minute to become airborne. Their water range extends from the Arctic Circle to New York.

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Pairs mate long periods and the males share in the incubation, feeding, and protection of the young. Their life expectancy is 20 years.

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So many puffins, so little time.

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