The Atlantic Puffin spends almost all of its life in the water, coming ashore only once a year to breed, usually to the same nesting spot which the male prepares. Then, laying a single egg, they both attend to hatching it –the newborn called a ‘puffling’ — caring for it until one night it will fledge. Once on its own, it remains on the sea for up to five years before finding a mate and finally returning to land to then breed.

‘Atlantic Puffin’, 5″ x 6.5″, Arches Hot Press Paper, watercolour by Lance Weisser, [sold]

They mate for life, though interestingly, do not stay together while on the open sea–which is two-thirds of the year–but only get back together when breeding time (usually April) occurs. Once August comes, they go their separate ways.

Their nickname is ‘the clown of the sea’–not purely due to their clown-faced features–but because although they are very adept fliers (reaching speeds up to 88km/hour), they are clunky when taking off and clumsy when landing. Their bright orange feet run haphazardly over the sea until finally getting them airborne, and on landing the puffin will often tumble and roll and pratfall across the surface of the water.

So, yes, this Christmas Puffins will be floating around the North Atlantic separated from their lifelong mates, managing to rustle up something for dinner, while on shore we’ll likely be left doing the same. Even so, together we’ll find a way to make the season bright.

source: https://www.nordicvisitor.com/blog/5-things-may-not-know-puffin/

…..photographic thank you

November 3, 2015

A number of months ago, coming across stunning photographs of Puffins, permission was sought from the photographer and world traveler, Rolf Stange, to use one of them for the painting of a miniature.

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Getting such spectacular images of these illusive birds takes persistence and resolve.  They spend nearly all of their lives in open sea, coming to shore only to breed.  Here is more about them…..

“. . . Iceland is the breeding home of perhaps 60 percent of the world’s Atlantic puffins. The birds often select precipitous, rocky cliff tops to build their nests, which they line with feathers or grass. Females lay a single egg, and both parents take turns incubating it. When a chick hatches, its parents take turns feeding it by carrying small fish back to the nest in their relatively spacious bills. Puffin couples often reunite at the same burrow site each year. It is unclear how these birds navigate back to their home grounds. They may use visual reference points, smells, sounds, the Earth’s magnetic fields—or perhaps even the stars. . . ”

source:  http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/atlantic-puffin/

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Rolf Stange ‘at home’ (which looks about as inviting as spending most of the year bobbing about the N. Atlantic nose-diving for herring)

Here is Rolf’s wonderful photo which was the inspiration for a watercolour miniature …..

puffin

http://www.spitsbergen-svalbard.com/spitsbergen-information/fauna/atlantic-puffin.html

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