Everything is for the first time once and everything has to finish at some point….And so I had the great opportunity to spend 2,5 months of helping out with everything on the Isle of May, one of the Scottish pearls. And the 7th of August was the day when I walked the paths looking after the visitors the last time, when I measured the two remaining (for a research) pufflings the last time, when I listened to the tern chattering to each other and gulls shouting the last time… My stomach felt like being on a boat for at least a week. I was leaving as one of the last people which gave me more days spent on the island. However seeing everyone leaving was very painful experience and I felt like someone is cutting off bits from my heart …. The though of going back into one of the biggest cities in UK wasn’t a pleasant idea but lets face the real world again. Yes I had a great time on the island and noone can take it away from me. And what were the top and bottom 5 of the Isle of May????
Finding the five best moments is very difficult as I could say that every moment was magical. However, thinking of the five worse moments is not that easy either; I guess I keep forgetting the less pleasant experiences – and even a bad experience brings something positive eventually….
The Isle of May Top Five:
- When I managed to ring my first puffin without a help of the experienced researchers
- Seeing first couple of fledged tern chicks at the Beacon colony after my return from my few days off the island- what a great welcome present J But I think that even as good was when thousands of birds are all around you on a windy and cold day when not many people would chose to get out of a house…..
- Social evenings without modern technology with the Isle of May crew. Yes, it is not just about the hard work maintaining the island or accordingly to some people about ‘peaceful holiday’. A part of the great experience is the fact that I spent hours and days knowing the quirky characteristics of some of the most funny and nature crazy people in the world.
- Getting up at unsociable hours was bearable when I realised that one of the most breathtaking moments could be the sun set. So helping out Catherine when scribing notes and holding shag babies (and become a host for some curious lice) for her to take samples for her project during a freezing cold morning while the sun stroked our faces the first time on the day, and the sky was displaying lots of colours from dark blue to golden yellow – was simply like in a dream world…..
- Seeing happy faces of visitors leaving the island. If we only managed to make the day for one visitor, it was worth it.
The Isle of May Bottom Five:
- Finding humans’ poo in a puffin borrow when checking up pufflings growth rates – would that be one of the reasons why a puffing would leave its home and move out to the sea?
- Writing up the tern report – I came to do mostly practical tasks on the island but there was no escape from spending time with an excel sheet and trying to summarise the tern breading season
- Seeing flooded puffin burrows after days of rain, seeing dead shag chicks in many nests…. I guess no one would like to get stuck in a cold, wet muddy home…
- Trying to scrape off an old and glued paint from doors. I thought it is not a bad job, but seeing the result after 2 hours of scraping was rather disappointingJ
- And leaving the island of course
I hope that the people who come to the island even for a few hours will be able to appreciate to what I could have experienced and the puffins will not be the only attractions of the island – there is so much more to itJ
I already visited my new placement in Potteric Carr, the Yorkshire wildlife trust nature reserve on my second day back on the mainland. The staff is nice, the placement is more ‘normal’ or I would call it usual than on May. I have the pleasure to take a hot shower when I feel like, buy anything I feel from a shop just down the road, hop on a train to anywhere I like…but I also have to push through the morning traffic of grumpy people rushing to their offices, standing next to the road and wait until the mass of cars will pass, smell the smog and perfumes, listen to loud noises of the modern world all over the place…So there are positives and negatives anywhere in the world, its just up to us how we deal with them. My last morning relaxing on the patio with the view on the sea…..
Fulmar chicks are the last breeding birds on the cliffs as I left!
The Ilse of May is behind Craigleith in the Forth
All those young Gulls that have not quite got a grip with their independence yet!
The iconic Main Lighthouse of the Isle of May
Evelyn and Jeremy waving me off as I left on the May Princess