Thanks to Chris Cachia-Zammit for all the above photos

Saturday 16th July comments: Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus (known as Bird flu) is circulating widely within wild bird populations in Scotland. The situation is rapidly evolving and there is concern about the impact of HPAI on vulnerable bird species, particularly in waterfowl, seabirds and raptors. During the winter months, the strain was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Barnacle Geese in the south-west of Scotland whilst the spring brought misery to many seabirds particular Northern gannets and Great Skuas (Bonxies).

Overall twenty-six species of wild birds have tested positive during the current outbreak, including gulls, terns, auks and Manx shearwater. Large numbers of dead and sick seabirds have also been reported along the east coast of Britain, and some places on the west coast are now reporting deaths. At the time of writing, HPAI is believed to be widespread in seabirds across Scotland, even where birds with symptoms have not been detected yet.

Here on the Isle of May we are still detecting the virus, especially in the Kittiwake population with over 100 adults dead at the loch whilst large Gulls (Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull) appear to be suffering as well. In general, we are asking people to behave responsibly during this unprecedented outbreak and not to take access through seabird colonies for the rest of the breeding season. This approach gives us the best chance to limit the spread of the virus by human activities and give colonies the best possible chance of survival and recovery by reducing any additional stress. Here on the Isle of May we remain closed for this very reason, to try attempt to keep the spread down. 

However remember there are still opportunities to enjoy the summer seabird spectacle by taking boat trips to sail around the island which will give you fantastic views of all the birds. For isle of May boat trips check out the websites of the various boat operators who are still sailing daily:

May Princess (sailing from Anstruther): https://www.isleofmayferry.com/

Osprey (sailing from Anstruther): https://www.isleofmayboattrips.co.uk/

Seabird Centre (sailing from North Berwick): https://seabird-centre.seafari-edinburgh.co.uk/forth-ferry-and-isle-of-may

Bluewild: (sailing from Dunbar): https://www.bluewild.co.uk/boat-tours/

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