Today on the May – on the job

Today was a typical sort of May day with plenty of variety and tasks that took in all aspects of the job of reserve manager.

Firstly we were up and out at 5am for the first early morning puffin netting session of the season. There were no pictures because it was grey and horrible. Damp, drizzle, a cold breeze and very little light. But as ever it was entertaining to get puffins in the hand and well worth getting up for.

Next up was a few hours of counting guillemots and razorbills in cliff plots. Still cold but the weather gradually improving and it is easy to loose ones self in the details of finding plot boundaries on a cliff face and then counting all the birds within those boundaries so time flew.


Not a guillemot or a razorbill but a kittiwake asleep in the sun.

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After a fast lunch and now in full sun the May Princess and RIB Osprey came in, both virtually full with over 100 visitors between them to enjoy the island. This include a group of incognito RSPB staff, ex-SNH staff members and some students from Elmwood. As I chatted to the visitors there were plenty of questions and interesting conversations including discussions on climate change, off-shore wind farms, stories of a teacher that were left on the island after missing the boat of a past trip, botanical questions and also the usual “where can we see puffins”.  We were also delighted to meet Isla May, aged 4,  on her first but I am sure not her last visit to the island that bears her name.


Isla May getting back on the May Princess after her first visit to the island.

And then 1 and a half hours of strimming along the paths in an attempt to keep back the jungle that is growing with no rabbits to eat it. By then it was hot and i was covered in grass and as we have a shower ban at the moment the next best thing was a jump in the harbour to make me presentable for dinner.


So the 3 main aspects of our work, monitoring of the wildlife, practical estate maintenance of the island and visitor management made up today’s working day. Working on the May is all about variety.

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