Isle of May uncovered

Monday 17th July comments: So did you watch it? The Isle of May featured on BBC Countryfile last night and it showed the trials and tribulations of a seabird island and how weather can affect the wildlife. I’m glad to report since then conditions have calmed and the seabirds have been getting on with their daily routine of rearing young (some species are having an excellent season). We’ll bring you a full seabird roundup tomorrow.

If you’ve never visited the Isle of May before then we highly recommend a trip (although we are biased) as once you’ve paid the boat fee, its free entry to wander this spectacular National Nature Reserve for up to three hours and to see the amazing wildlife on here. For boat sailings and times see below (boats sail daily weather dependent).

Also don’t forget this week (Thursday and Friday) it’s our special Family Festival where you’ll get the chance to meet Piper the Puffin, take part in some fun challenge games, listen to storytellers and have your face painted. They’ll also be seabird art and crafts as well as plenty to keep everyone entertained. So don’t delay, book today!

May Princess (departs Anstruther):

Osprey Rib (departs Anstruther):

Seabird Rib (departs north Berwick):

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TV Night

Sunday 16th July comments: The big day is here. This evening BBC Countryfile will showcase the Isle of May NNR as part of their weekly show with a feature lasting over 17 minutes (which is a reasonable showing for television).

The program will give a snapshot of the island, its dedicated staff and of course the stunning wildlife (as well as the rain as it never stopped throughout filming; maybe a slight exaggeration but it did rain a lot). So tune in and learn more about the Isle of May, the Jewel of the Forth and the hidden gem with largest east coast Puffin population. Then one day you’ll come and see it for yourself…

On screen: Sunday 16th July BBC One, Countryfile, 7pm.

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Magic May on BBC Countryfile


Presenter Ellie Harrison interviewing Beckie (left)

Bex & Ellie

Ellie (left) catching up with Bex (right)

Cameras rolling

Mike & Steven film the May

Team in wet

It was tough going! rain galore…

Thursday 13th July comments: The May is coming to a screen near you! If you’ve never been or want to relive the wonders of the Isle of May NNR, then tune into BBC One on Sunday 16th July at 19:00 to watch the May in action.

The BBC Countryfile team with presenter Ellie Harrison filmed on the island for two days (probably the two worst days of the year as a north-easterly storm hit) but captured a snap shot of everything we do on the island. The one hour program will heavily feature the Island and all those who work on it. From reserve staff to scientists, the May and its famous birds (especially Puffins) will feature.

So if you want to get a flavor of the May before visiting this wonderful reserve tune in on Sunday evening and enjoy (and feel sorry for the entire team and crew working in those conditions – it was tough going!). Hope you enjoy.

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1 hiding

You cant see me…right (Pufflin hiding in stone wall)

2 ready to go

Picked up, boxed and ready for release

3 boxed

Along with his other friends

4 Pufflin

Ready to go!

Tuesday 11th July comments: Walkers are stirring on the Isle of May NNR as during the twilight hours, things are going bump in the night…. thankfully for the residence of the island it’s more about Puffin chicks than zombies.

Puffins nest underground for several reasons but one of the main advantages is that the vulnerable chicks are safe from aerial predators such as the large Gulls. However having spent 40 days down a burrow it’s time for them to fledge and move out.

Since late June, Puffin chicks (known as Pufflins) have been on the move as birds have been leaving their burrows (without parents’ consent) under the cover of darkness to avoid predation. These ‘walkers actually walk to sea rather than fly when leaving but sometimes things don’t go according to plan as some will become lost on the way (after all they’ve not seen the outside world before!).

However it’s not all bad news as help is on the way as the island team go about collecting these lost individuals and release them safely out at sea (just giving them a helping hand). During this process we also ring them to allow us to follow their movements if they are discovered in future years. So there you have it, the Isle of May walkers are walking in good numbers at the moment as its Pufflin season!

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Tern Fledglings

Tern Photo

Our first Arctic Tern Fledgling


Arctic tern numbers are up 58%.


Adult and young Arctic Tern

Monday 10th July comments: It has been another great year for our Terns; both Arctic and Common Terns have increased in number. These incredible birds signal the start of the summer when they arrive, their noise and energy providing a brilliant atmosphere on a visit to the May.

The Arctic Terns have increased to 832 pairs, an incredible 58% increase from last year’s count and the highest count since 2001.  Although the numbers are high, they have suffered with the weather and a lot of the young have succumbed to the recent heavy rain.  Currently the chicks are getting bigger and we have had our first chick flying. It won’t be long before they are all fledging and getting ready for their epic journey to the Antarctic. These birds spend the winter finding food off the Antarctic pack ice and potentially see more daylight than any other creature, seeing summer in both hemispheres.

Common Terns have similarly had the same story with an increase of 53%, to 29 breeding pairs.  Although this isn’t a high number it is a step in the right direction as only two years ago there was only 13 breeding pairs. These birds winter a little bit closer, heading to West Africa for the winter – still a fair journey.

We are now hoping these good numbers will bode well for future years and the Isle of May can continue to be a productive breeding colony.  Over the next week we will be revealing more population figures of our seabirds.

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Family Festival!


Book Now!!

Thursday 6th July comments: A date for the diary! Its the school holidays and if you are looking for a fun day out, look no further than our special Family Festival, celebrating Scotland’s seabirds with a host of fun activities including:

  • Face Painters
  • Story Tellers
  • Fun facts and prize winning challenges
  • Seabird arts and crafts
  • and of course…meet Piper the Puffin

For a great day out don’t delay and book today. Links to all the boat companies are shown below:

May Princess (departs Anstruther):

Osprey Rib (departs Anstruther):

Seabird Rib (departs North Berwick):

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Tuesday 4th July comments: You just never know what you are going to see on a wildlife trip out to the Isle of May. Today’s visitors were in for a nice surprise as a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins performed well close to shore entertaining all who saw them.

The photos (supplied by May Princess crew member Ed Thomson) shows just how good the show was. Its always exciting visiting the Isle of May as you never know what you are going to see. The months of July-August are an excellent time for whales and dolphins in May waters, so if you are visiting keep your eyes peeled.

Until then you’ll have to enjoy the photos and get booking…still plenty of seabirds especially Puffins (arguably one of the best times of year to visit!). We’ll see you out here…

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