Chantals’ Story

Introducing our latest volunteer, Chantal, she writes…

As many people will know the Isle of May is a stunning place to visit and during the last couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of volunteering on the island. My duties while on the island, has focused primarily on meeting and greeting the public, the removal of non-native plant species and participating with the daily bird and moth counts. I’ve also tried my hand at learning identifying some of the micro-moths which has been fun.


Burnished Brass Moth


During my stay I have been able to see some fantastic wildlife as the change in weather has brought some nice migrants to the island; some more common than others. During our recent wader count I thoroughly enjoyed seeing purple sandpipers.

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Purple Sandpiper

One of the great things about having friendly people from the Isle of May Bird Observatory present on the island, is that they are always eager to share their knowledge and show us the migrants they have caught in the Heligoland traps. It has been fascinating seeing such a nice variety of birds on the island; especially those observed flying around during our daily count. Last week, a red-breasted flycatcher was initially seen on the cliffs near the Mill Door and watching it was a delight. Later we were fortunate to see one in the hand by one of the licensed ringers.

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Red-breasted Flycatcher


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Red-breasted Flycatcher

Although fairly common, a Reed warbler on migration to Africa for the winter took the time to visit the island on its way down.


Reed Warbler

The last several days we have also been inundated with raptors and I have enjoyed watching the sparrowhawk, osprey, merlin, peregrine falcon, hobby and kestrels hunting around the area. Our highest count concerning kestrels was 9!

Living on the island is a great experience as it put things into a matter of perspective. What do we consider essential? There is no shop on the island, no constant supply of water as we are dependent on rainfall and as a result we are always careful with our provisions. Our limited electricity comes in the form of solar power but to be honest none of these are a hardship – at least I don’t consider them to be! Just the fact that we can live on this island, surrounded by beautiful wildlife coupled with cliff-faces and on-top of that it’s interesting human history (i.e. Scotland’s first ever lighthouse) makes this a amazing place to volunteer – one that I will never forget!

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