Puffin and sand eels

The power of the Puffarazzi

 

Taking photos had always been about relaxing for Steve Lloyd-Smart, but when he realised the photos he was taking could help protect one of his favourite species, getting involved was a no -brainer.  

photographer in the hills

A creative outlet

"I’ve been taking photos of nature for about 20 years. I can’t draw, paint or play music so taking pictures is a creative outlet for me. I focus on wildlife because I love being out in nature. There’s nothing like that feeling of breathing out and being totally relaxed. I only get that when I’m out in the countryside watching animals go about their business. 

I wouldn’t say I have a favourite species to photograph, but if I did, the puffin would be up there. There’s just something about them. Everyone loves puffins! They’re super cute, fluffy, interesting, with big bright breaks. What’s not to like? I’m always up for an opportunity to photograph them so when we were visiting Pembrokeshire on a family holiday a couple of years back, I knew the perfect place to visit. Even if it did mean getting up at ridiculous o’clock! 

 

Puffin, Isle of May

Picture perfect

Sitting just off the south Wales coast, Skomer Island is a National Trust site and a photographer’s dream. The puffins that nest on the island are so close, they’re almost walking across your feet. I knew the shot I was after - the “face full of sand eels, but also in flight” shot. I just needed to get myself into the right place, at the right time. How hard could that be? Turns out pretty hard as they’re like little pocket rockets!

After two hours stood in the same spot, I got lucky a couple of times and the picture below was one of those.

 

puffin in flight with sand eels

A hobby that helps

I’d not thought to do anything with the photo and it’s sat in my archive until recently when a friend of mine who works for the RSPB suggested I submit it as part of Project Puffin. Puffin numbers have plummeted and if we don’t do something soon, we could lose them forever. I never would have thought that a photo of mine could help stop that from happening, but the RSPB is using photos of puffins with food in their beaks to see how that food has changed over time and whether it’s a lack of food that’s causing the problem. I love the fact that something I enjoy so much can play an important part in saving the wildlife I love to photograph. 

So now when my wife complains about how much time I’m taking photos, I can tell her I’m doing it for the puffins and she can’t really argue with that can she? "