Born just 2 hours ago…our first Grey Seal Pup
Welcome to the world little fella
Mum keeping a watchful eye
Monday 26th September comments: We’ve been waiting and today was the day; our first Grey Seal pup of the autumn! Around mid-morning, a Cow (female) Seal gave birth to a healthy pup on the island; the first of nearly 2,500 which will be born on here over the next few months.
Its great news for the colony to finally have our first pup (slightly later than normal – we expect our first in mid-September) but now we can look forward to many more. Grey Seal pups completely depend on their mother for valuable milk for the first three weeks of life but then after that, have to fend for themselves.
The Isle of May is a very important nursery for Grey Seals as the island boasts one of the biggest colonies in the UK. The number of adults arrive at the island now is increasing daily and we’ll keep you posted of developments.
Female (cow) Seals arriving on land to give birth
Numbers have increased dramatically on the island
Saturday 24th September comments: Just a matter of time. The number of Grey Seals arriving at the Isle of May over the last seven days has been huge, as heavily pregnant cows (females) are starting to return to well-known breeding grounds.
We’ve had one dead still-born pup last week but we await our first living pup and hopefully it won’t be long before we are celebrating the start of the Seal season. A number of females have now arrived on land and we are keeping a close eye on them as we expect to have some exciting news very soon.
Remember we are celebrating our Grey Seals with a special ‘Seal Weekend’ on 1st-2nd October so don’t delay, book today! (please see below for links to boat companies, prices and time of sailings):
May Princess (departing Anstruther): http://www.isleofmayferry.com/
Osprey Rib (departing Anstruther): http://www.isleofmayboattrips.co.uk/
Seabird Rib (departing North Berwick): https://seabird.org/visit/boats/isle-of-may-landings/10/22/159
Not today’s bird but just to give you some scale! (sadly no pictures of todays bird)
A juvenile from the east coast release program
Thursday 22nd September comments: It was proving to be a quiet day on the May today but all that changed with the discovery of a juvenile White-tailed Eagle on the north end of the island.
The monster bird (which can have a wing span of 8ft!) was mobbed as it moved down the west cliffs before returning to the north end. Having remained for a few hours it then eventually departed the island at 16:30 and was seen arriving on the Fife coast at Crail soon after.
Since these monsters were released as part of the Scottish east coast re-introductory programme, the island has claimed records in four years between 2007-2012. This was the first on the island since one flew over on 29th March 2012.
First Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn
Tuesday 20th September comments: It’s been coming. Although light winds have dominated, there has been a whiff of an easterly airflow today and during the late afternoon the island produced a Siberian waif; a Yellow-browed Warbler!
These diddy warblers have travelled from Siberia and with a number of them arriving today up and down the east coast, it wasn’t a surprise we managed to discover one. In recent years the island has produced 10-15 each autumn so we hope this is the first of many.
The amazement of migration continues and as we enter late September we hope more interesting arrivals occur on the island. As always we’ll keep you posted…
Pink-footed Geese arriving today
Monday 19th September comments: The autumn is officially here. For many birdwatchers the sight and sound of the arrival of Pink-footed Geese from their northern breeding grounds marks the arrival of autumn.
Hundreds of thousands of Pink-footed Geese winter in the UK and at this time of year can be seen arriving from their breeding grounds in the high arctic tundra. Today marked the first arrival as several skeins totalling 493 moved west across the island and over the next few weeks many more will follow.
It’s that time of year again and soon we’ll be welcoming the northern Thrushes (Fieldfare and Redwings) back for the winter. Migration is a wonderful thing and it’s great to see it in action out on the Isle of May.
Immature Red-breasted Flycatcher caught and ringed
Plenty of materials arrived to be moved up the island
Some stunning sun rises of recent
Morning sky across the May
Some stunning sun rises of recent
Sunday 18th September comments: Its been a few days since an update from the island but for a very good reason; a lack of internet! The early autumn is a good time to get various things done on the island from management work to house refurbishments!
In recent days we’ve had some new carpets fitted to the buildings (hence the lack of a computer and internet) and took delivery of timber and coal on a large scale. So we’ve been a busy team but its now time to focus back on the wildlife.
On the wildlife front, migrant birds continue to move through the island with the highlight of an immature Red-breasted Flycatcher on Saturday. Sea passage has been productive with good numbers of Divers and Shearwaters whilst Arctic Skuas continue to patrol the waters around the island. Hopefully we’ll soon be reporting the first Grey Seal pup of the autumn and then it’ll be all go!
Martins on the move (Joe Turner JT Photography)
Swallow whipping over the island heading south (Joe Turner JT Photography)
Good numbers recorded in recent weeks (Joe Turner JT Photography)
Wednesday 14th September comments: Migration through the May has picked up in recent weeks and we’ve had a noticeable passage of Hirundines; the family name for Swallows, House Martin and Sand Martins.
As the autumn advances and the darker nights (and colder days) are fast approaching, these migratory birds are moving south to warmer climes and we are recording them on the move. From October-March they’ll spend the winter in Africa before returning north to breed in Scotland and beyond (the May actually supports five pairs of breeding Swallows).
It’s great to watch diurnal migration in action and the May is ideally situated to pick up on this impressive passage. So the next time you look up and see a Swallow fly over, just think of the incredible journey its doing by land and sea on its way south. Below shows recent peaks of Hirundines over the Isle of May:
Tues 6th Sept: Swallow 124, Sand martin 16, House Martin 562
Tues 13th Sept: Swallow 491, Sand Martin 144, House Martin 111
Wed 14th Sept: Swallow 276, House Martin 11