HND Audio Visual Technology Student, Edinburgh College
For my Graded Unit, which is a client based college project, I approached the Scottish Seabird Centre as I’m keen to go into Wildlife filming after I graduate. Laura Adamson, the Centres marketing manager was looking for new material for their Wildlife Theatre and said there was a possibility of staying on the Isle of May.
After speaking with David Pickett the reserve manager of the Island, he agreed to let me stay for a few days at the end of March into the beginning of April.
I’m a local guy from North Berwick and until doing intensive research during the production stage of my project, even I was unaware of the extent and the importance of the work that is carried out on the island.
I arrived on Saturday the 30th of March from Anstruther, off the May Princess, as there were no boats departing from North Berwick. I was welcomed off the boat by David and got straight into exploring the island after checking out my accommodation. There had been a down pour of snow early that morning but had pretty much all melted away by the time I got there.
Due to the cold weather the whole of Britain has been experiencing over the last few weeks there where little seabirds nesting. Only the gulls and seals where around. I was told if I wanted to catch any of the other seabirds I would have to be up early doors to catch them as they check out the island before returning to the sea to feed for the day.
Sunday 31st March
I got up at 5.40 to catch sunrise after loosing an hour due to the clocks going forward. I headed straight for Lady’s Bed where I managed to capture some shots of Guillemots on the rocks. There was one Razorbill but it managed to evade me before I could set up my shot. I captured a shot of a Shag splashing about in the water but as the day went on these birds did disappear and again I was left to film all the different Gulls and Seals that are found all around the island. I got some footage of Mark Newell one of the researchers cutting up dead Puffins that had been found washed up on the island. These birds would be frozen and sent away for research purposes. I was yet to see a live Puffin on the island as this cold weather for this time of year is having such an impact.
Monday 1st April
As its April the first I could say I saw anything but i’ll keep to the script!!
The coldest day I experienced on the island. A bitterly cold morning and strong wind made filming a challenge. Got my first shots of one of the pairs of Great Black-backed gulls feeding on a dead rabbit, which was great. After some lunch and preparing some dinner for my home duty shift, I was lucky to go back out into a bit of sunshine and capture a number of Shags that were sitting around on the rocks by the South Horn.
Tuesday 2nd April
Today started with some nice sunshine. I set my second camera up looking towards the Bass Rock and North Berwick Law and took a time lapse throughout the morning. I got my first good shots of Eider Ducks that were swimming around the island in groups of around twelve. The sun did fade in the afternoon and I am still left with no shots of Puffins or Razorbills!
Wednesday 3rd April
My last day on the island. I started early as my boat was leaving at 3.30pm, determined to get a shot of a Razorbill! I went down by the cliffs beside the hides and was lucky enough to see around a dozen on the rocks. Typically today was the best day for sunlight and was the busiest I had seen the island in terms of amount of birds. The Kittiwakes were in full song and there were many Guillemots and Shags to be seen too. I took some footage of the hard working volunteers that give up there free time to maintain the island. Hats of to them!
I had a fantastic time on the Isle of May and met some really nice people. Many thanks to all of them for their help and support. Apparently the first Puffins were seen on the island on my last day so hopefully they’ll be back in force with all the rest of the seasonal residents in the coming days.
If you haven’t been to the Isle of May then I cant urge you enough to go and experience this wildlife paradise and please give what you can to help support and maintain the island.