a puffin feasting on fish. National Geographic Your Shot photographer, Sunil Gopalan, who is a computer engineer by day and an avid bird photographer, had already captured two other species of puffins in Alaska, and was keen on finding the Atlantic puffin to complete his collection.
After some research, he decided to travel to the remote island of Fair Isle off the coast of Shetland in northern Scotland, which can only be reached by a four-hour ferry ride or a small twin-engine plane. Despite the challenging journey, Gopalan was thrilled to discover a pristine location with ideal weather conditions to capture the perfect shot.
During one rainy morning, Gopalan was about to eat breakfast when he spotted a rain-drenched puffin carrying a bounty of tiny fish in its beak, destined for its chick. He took advantage of the opportunity and snapped photo after photo of the puffin with its catch of the day.
The result was a stunning portrait of the wild bird, capturing the moment of its return to its nest with a mouthful of fish. Gopalan submitted his best shot online to the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition, hoping to win the prestigious award.
Atlantic puffins are known for spending most of their lives at sea and only returning to land during the breeding season in spring and summer. They are extremely agile and can dive to depths of up to 200 feet, catching small fish like herring and sand eels in their spacious bills. They are also remarkable flyers, reaching speeds of up to 55 miles per hour.
Despite the challenge of capturing such speedy birds, Gopalan considers them his favorite photographic subject and is constantly on the lookout for new species to photograph. He believes that National Geographic is the gold standard for nature enthusiasts and aims to submit his favorite images to Your Shot, a great platform to connect with other photographers and gain inspiration.
Overall, Gopalan’s journey to Fair Isle highlights the beauty of the remote island and the natural wonders that it offers, including the Atlantic puffin. The stunning photograph captures the essence of this remarkable bird and reminds us of the incredible diversity of nature.