Bird Obs closes for the winter

Photos from David Steel, Ciaran Hatsell and Bex Outram

Tuesday 15th November comments: It that time of year when the Isle of May starts closing down and we will leave the island to sleep in its winter slumber. On Saturday it was the turn of the bird observatory to close its doors as another season drew to a close.  

The Isle of May is home to Scotland’s oldest bird observatory having been founded in 1934 and is administered by a charitable trust (The Isle of May Bird Observatory and Field Station Trust). During the year it is manned by visiting volunteer observers between March and November having been founded by a group of young Scottish ornithologist. The bird observatory continues to depend on the enthusiasm of amateurs who come to the island, usually for a week at a time, to maintain observations. The accommodation, for up to six people is housed within the Low Light, a former navigational lighthouse. It can be booked, at a modest cost, by anyone who is willing to contribute to recording the birds and wildlife of the island.

This year the observatory opened its doors on 1st April and since then residents have helped ring thousands of birds and recorded 175 different bird species for the year (4th highest annual total). This was despite closing its doors for a six week period in July-August due to the presence of avian influenza in the seabird populations. Despite this, it’s been another hugely successful year as the observatory plays a big part in the island as its active members are an important aspect of the island community and we enjoy working and socialising alongside them.

A lot of hard work goes in behind the scenes by the Observatory trust to keep the place ticking along from trap repair work to building new Heligoland traps; it’s always busy regardless of the time of year. As usual, we thank everyone who has made it another enjoyable year full of great birds and good company. The Isle of May is very much back on the birding map and we hope everyone enjoys their winter break because we’ll be starting all over again next April. Bring it on.

For further information on the bird observatory, you can check out the Trust’s website link 

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