Skellig Michael

What is it about puffins that make us fall so hopelessly in love with them? Is it because they stand up straight like us? Because they are so ridiculously cute? Is it the way that they turn their heads back and forth to compensate for their lack of binocular vision? Maybe it's their multicolored beak (which, by the way, is only colorful in the breeding season. Like us, they put on their finest show when they are trying to attract the opposite sex). Who could possibly resist a beak full of fresh, raw fish?

The Skelligs (Little Skellig and Skellig Michael) are home to tens of thousands of northern gannets, common murres, Atlantic puffins, razorbills, black-legged kittiwakes and other compelling seabirds. Great abundance in the ocean provides a supply of food more than adequate to feed the gaping mouths of the young birds that are raised every year, and isolation from the mainland ensures that there are no mammalian predators (other than, in the past, humans) to raid nests.

Unusually calm conditions allowed us to land on Skellig Michael and hike to the top, almost 700 feet above the calm seas. All but harassed by puffins coming back to their nesting burrows, we made it to the top where the remains of a sixth century monastic site sit silently above the avian melee.