Flashback! Two years ago we were in Edinburgh preparing for our 59 mile walk down the Northumberland coast by eating sticky toffee pudding. Puffins were, of course, a highlight of the saunter.

Backyard and Beyond

Fratercula arcticaFratercula arcticaYou never forget your first Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica). Mine was, alas, quite dead, a veritable ex-Puffin, gone to join the Choir Invisible. It was being inquisitively pecked at by a Herring Gull on Nantucket’s South Shore. The scavenger was put out and aloft by my approach, and the small dead auk of the family Alcidae was in pristine shape, recently passed, not yet breached by the gull’s bill nor too mussed by the waves that had tumbled it ashore. I probably should have gathered it up as a specimen for the Maria Mitchell collection. Nantucket is too far south for any regular appearance of Puffins. But this was before I was an actual bird-watcher. Fratercula arcticapuffin burrowFratercula arcticaOn a trip to Iceland in 2010, I saw a few Puffins with their seemingly inadequate wings beating swiftly as they raced along off-shore, but the steep coastal hill we drove up to…

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