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Local photographer captures friendship between puffins and rabbits on Saltee Islands off the Wexford coast

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A puffin having a word with a rabbit on the Saltee Islands, captured by photographer Kenny Goodison.

A puffin having a word with a rabbit on the Saltee Islands, captured by photographer Kenny Goodison.

A puffin having a word with a rabbit on the Saltee Islands, captured by photographer Kenny Goodison.

A puffin having a word with a rabbit on the Saltee Islands, captured by photographer Kenny Goodison.

A puffin and puffling chick captured by photographer Kenny Goodison on the Saltee Islands.

A puffin and puffling chick captured by photographer Kenny Goodison on the Saltee Islands.

A puffin and puffling chick captured by photographer Kenny Goodison on the Saltee Islands.

A puffin and puffling chick captured by photographer Kenny Goodison on the Saltee Islands.

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A puffin having a word with a rabbit on the Saltee Islands, captured by photographer Kenny Goodison.

wexfordpeople

WEXFORD photographer Kenny Goodison captured some photos that were ten years in the making as he once again took on ‘puffin season’ on the Saltee Islands, just off the coast of Kilmore Quay in Wexford. Having gone on countless trips to the islands to observe the majestic puffins there over the past decade, this summer Kenny was rewarded with shots that he had never managed to get before – puffins interacting with rabbits and mother puffins interacting with their chicks or ‘pufflings’.

Every year, Kenny is among a group of photographers who gather their supplies, equipment and cameras and catch the boat out to Great Saltee, where they spend up to 12 hours in the summer sunshine on the remote island. 

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"I've been going out there for the past ten years,” he explains. “Every year, when you get off the boat you can see rabbit droppings in the grass, but none of us had ever seen the rabbits. But this year, in the last three or four trips, we actually saw rabbits outside of the burrows and interacting with the puffins there. It was amazing to see. The puffin started pecking at the rabbit, who stayed completely still and never flinched the whole time. In ten years, this was the first time I’d ever seen anything like it.

Similarly, Kenny and his fellow photographers were amazed to finally catch a glimpse of the puffling chicks on the island in the same year.

"Again, I had never seen the chicks or pufflings out there,” he said. “They usually only come out in the dead of night and spend the rest of the time hidden down in the burrows. The reason for this is that they could be taken away by bigger predators like the big gulls. To see them on the same trip was just the icing on the cake.

“A lot of wildlife photography is luck. There are people who’ve been out to the islands hundreds and hundreds of times and never seen this. Thankfully there was a few of us photographers there on this occasion to capture it.”

Kenny’s work will be exhibited alongside fellow photographers Ann Fitzpatrick and Philip Sharpe and woodturner Jerry Carberry at the Stella Maris Centre in Kilmore from August 7 to 14 and the Saltees Coast Hotel from August 14 to 28.


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