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Photography guidelines

Before you take part, please make sure you've read the photography guidelines, as they'll keep the puffins and you safe.

  • Do not put yourself at risk to get a photograph - ensure you visit one of the sites in the UK where puffins breed and where they are safely accessible both for you and the puffins. Puffin breeding spots can often be sea cliffs or islands with often unpredictable weather, please ensure you are safe at all times in these habitats.
  • Avoid getting too close to a puffin. Puffins can be inquisitive, if they approach you that is perfectly fine but please don't chase the birds or try and get within five metres of them.
  • Avoid spending too long taking a photo. Puffins standing with fish are vulnerable to piracy (fish stealing!) from other birds such as gulls, try not to force a puffin to spend too long standing exposed with fish. Do not prevent a puffin from landing or from entering its burrow or feeding a dependent chick. It is often the presence of a photographer which causes the puffin to pause before entering a burrow. It's therefore very important that you get you picture quickly (try to take no more than five minutes with each bird, or less if there are birds such as gulls trying to take the puffin's fish) and then move out of sight of the puffin so that it will go into its burrow.
  • Keep your movements and noise to a minimum.
  • Watch where you are walking and never walk over a puffin burrow as they can easily collapse and injure puffin chicks inside or block the burrow so that adults can't get in to feed them. Never damage any sensitive breeding habitat or disturb any other birds in attempt to get your photos. 
  • Follow all guidelines stated by the site owner/land manager in terms of where you can park, walk and how long you can visit for.
  • Visit a puffin colony between early/mid June and mid/late July: This is main period when puffins feed their chicks and carrying fish. You won't see puffins carrying fish outside of these times. Each colony has slightly different timing so plan your visit to give you the best chance of seeing puffins carrying fish. See the example images below.
  • Find a mama or papa puffin: We know puffins are gorgeous birds and any picture of a puffin is special, but for this research we just need to see the fish in the puffins' bill. Try to look at breeding birds and have chicks to feed. Waiting in a spot where you can see a few puffin burrows or crevices or near a popular puffin landing spot gives you the best chance of capturing the adult with fish in its beak.
  • Prepare your camera and snap: The easiest way to get a photo is to spot puffins that have landed and are holding fish. We know it can be very hard to get a flying bird in focus, but if you have a camera with a fast tracking mode you may also be able to take photos of puffins flying with fish.
  • Try to get photos that are in focus and showing the whole of the bill with all the fish that are being carried. All photos should show clearly the detail of the fish in the birds' beak. If they are blurry or you can't make out some detail on the fish such as colour, any fins, or the mouth shape, then unfortunately we won't be able to identify the fish and so we can't use them.
  • Make a note of the date, time and location of your photo: When you submit your photo we'll ask you a few questions about where and when you took your photo allowing us to use it in our science project.

The type of photo we need

This photo shows the fish, in focus, in the puffin's bill

Not what we're after

Although a good photo, this doesn't show any fish in the puffin's bill, so we can't use it.