Puffin Bird Fratercula arctica
What an endearing seabird is the puffin sometimes nicknamed the ‘sea parrot’. A puffin has a bright red, dark blue and yellow bill ideal for carrying their favourite food – sand eels. Sometimes their bills are full of sand eels hanging out either side of their beak.
Unfortunately with man’s impact on the sea the sand eels have declined in numbers. Now the adorable puffins with their cheeky faces and strange groaning calls are declining too.
Puffins only come ashore for breeding and nest in burrows on sloping grassy cliffs. They also live in island colonies when mating and breeding such as Shetland and Skomer Island. Puffin colonies are called puffinries and they once flourished along coasts and offshore islands. Puffin chicks are called pufflings.
Puffins are members of the auk family which include guillemots and razorbills. They spend most of their lives out at sea where they swim and dive like penguins collecting as much as 60 eels in each of their beaks at one time.
The puffin’s flying skill is not as great as it’s swimming skills making it vulnerable to attack by predators. The puffin loses the bright colours of its beak after the breeding season.
The puffin in my watercolour paintings may have just stepped out of her breeding burrow and is now looking wistfully out to sea, scanning the horizon, looking out for her mate flying home with a beak full of sand eels.
As always I use Windsor and Newton Artist quality paints to ensure that I get the beautiful translucent colours of nature and a good quality watercolour paper such as Arches. Sable watercolour brushes always give the best results since they are natural, form a find point and hold much paint.
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