The island is only a few metres away now, and the sea is thick with birds. The steely grey water laps against the boat, and with a gentle bump we hit the pier. Now the birds are swooping low around us, curious but still shy.

   I step across the gap between boat and wall, before turning to help my sister across. She is staring at the vast numbers of birds, awestruck by the sheer quantity of them. I’m more awestruck by their beauty.

   All around me, there are clown-faces, with brightly panelled beaks, and vibrant orange feet. The sight feels surreal. Here I am, on a small island off the coast of Wales, surrounded by birds that look so exotic and playful! 

   My family and I have decided to walk along the edge of the island, to the place where, we are told, there are cliffs riddled with burrows, all holding small fluffy pufflings.

   So we start the long trek to the cliffs. The path is well trodden, but the land around it is perfectly preserved. No-one is allowed to step or sit off the path as the ground shelters hidden holes, which in turn hide burrows, which in turn shelter pufflings. Stepping off the path could prove fatal to a dearly loved nest of eggs or babies. 

   Finally, we reach the cliffs. Three looming cliff faces surround an expanse of icy sea, in which many puffins, as well as other birds, feed, swoop, swim and dive in and out of.  By my left foot, there is a small opening of a burrow.  As I watch, a small grey face peeks out. A puffling! I tap my sister on the shoulder to tell her what I have seen. When I look back, the small fluffy face has disappeared into its hole.

   The midday sun beats down on the remote island, and I see a puffin take shelter in a man’s shadow! The man hasn’t noticed- he is too busy trying to take the perfect picture, but I see it and crouch down to get closer to it. Suddenly, I feel so aware of how close I am to nature. In this second, I am standing on a path across which many puffins cross every day to reach the sea. Yet here is one, stopped by the hot sun, unafraid, in the shadow of a human. In the shadow of the creature that dominates the earth. Then the man realises, and the puffin flees into his burrow. The moment is gone, and there is no more to be said for the man or the puffin. But for me, the feeling of being so close to an untamed miracle of nature, that’s a feeling I will never forget.

  • Celeste
  • : love animals.
  • : youth_(12_–_18_as_of_31st_december_2019)
  • : This is the first time this story has been published.