Tuesday 12th May comments: In yesterday’s blog we highlighted the importance of the island to migrant birds but it has also been important to the study of birds. In the early 20th century two women; Evelyn Baxter and Leonora Rintoul discovered bird migration through the Isle of May and studied the movements of these birds on the island (often with the use of a gun!) Evelyn Baxter is pictured left and Leonora Rintoul is pictured right.
Evelyn was born in Fife in 1879 and her close lifelong friend Leonora Rintoul was born the previous year in 1878. Evelyn and Leonora both had a passion for natural history especially bird migration and between them they studied the movements of birds for twenty years on the Isle of May and produced several publications as a result. This pioneering work helped establish the bird observatory on the island and everything that followed including linking the fact that easterly winds brought more migrant birds to the island.
As well as the Isle of May, Baxter was involved in establishing the Scottish Ornithologists Club (SOC) in 1936 and both of them became the only non-graduates out of eight women to become Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Baxter went on to become the first woman to receive the Union Medal of the British Ornithological Union amongst many other things. There legacies continue today and we have much to thank them for on the Isle of May.