Next few days…

Puffin 1 Iain English

Puffin on the May (Iain English)

2 Puffin Ian English

A gathering of Puffins (Iain English)

3 Puffin Iain English

and many thousands (Iain English)

Wednesday 12th April comments: Its been a strange start to the seabird season, as it started, then stopped and now we hope it’ll restart again. In recent days we’ve had some strong winds from the west preventing boats from sailing and pushing the birds out to sea.

At this time of year, as birds are not fully settled all the Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins will just move off out to sea. However as its calming (wind decreasing) the urge to return and start egg laying will take over. Hopefully over the next few days we should witness a large arrival of birds again and then we can get down to the serious side of the breeding season.

Its not just the Auks, but we should be boasting our first nesting Eiders soon (watch your feet as they nest on the path) and a few others like our Great Black-backed Gulls. Soon the Seabird city will be alive and it’ll be a stunning time to visit…

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1 Dolphin

Small pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins (Ed Thomson)


Showing well from yesterday boat (Ed Thomson)


Dolphins in the Forth (Ed Thomson)


Great views(Ed Thomson)

Tuesday 11th April comments: A visit to the Isle of May is one of those ‘must do bucket list’ trips which will never disappoint. The wildlife is spectacular with thousands of breeding seabirds, the views are inspiring and you just never know what you may see. This is wildlife after all…

Yesterday on the return journey back to Anstruther the main visitor boat was welcomed by a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins. The pod, occasionally seen during the summer months, showed well as they moved past the boat much to the delight of the many visitors onboard. With regular sightings of Minke Whale in July-August and Harbour Porpoise all year round, even before you set foot onto the island you may just encounter something special.

As the seabirds continue to prepare for a new breeding season, the May really is starting to become the place to visit. Soon we’ll be welcoming our Terns back and then it really will be all go!

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Seabird season stirs

Saturday 8th April comments: Seabird islands up and down the country are starting to stir into action as thousands of birds return to nest on these sanctuaries off shore. The story on the Isle of May is no different as Shags have started nesting (first eggs discovered late March) with the Auks (Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins) set to follow.

Throw in over 1,000 nesting female Eiders, a mixed bag of Terns (Arctic, Common and Sandwich) and a lot of Kittiwakes; then you have one of the most impressive seabird colonies this country has to offer. And if we’ve not mentioned before, its well worth a visit. Apart from the ferry costs, it is all free; you’ll get up to three hours on the island in the largest Puffin colony on the east coast of Britain.

This summer we’ll also be opening the famous Stevenson Lighthouse at weekends whilst hosting a number of events throughout the season. So check out the ‘Jewel of the Forth’ with links to the various boats below:

To visit check out the following boat operators websites for sailing times:

May Princess (sails from Anstruther)

Osprey Rib (sails from Anstruther)

Seabird Rib (sails from North Berwick)

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Litter Lessons

1 Litter

Isle of May litter pick

2 Litter

Only 100m of beach producing rather a lot…

3 Litter

Good job done!

Thursday 6th April comments: Work on the Isle of May is very varied and at this time of year we undertake an annual litter pick around the place to collect and remove discarded litter which has gathered during the winter.

The small beach on the island, known as Pilgrims Haven, is approximately 100m long but it gives us a good snapshot of what litter issues we have. It is staggering what we collect on the beach (despite the small size) and no surprise that plastic is the number one culprit. Everything from bottles to traffic cones and even car head rests; you name it we’ve found it.

Its a sobering thought that all these items wash up on an island six miles out in the North Sea and its a trend repeated up and down the UK coastline. Plastic is certainly a big issue in the sea and we’ve done a small bit to help but help starts at home; please take litter home and please recycle if you can. Every little helps!

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Puffin Appreciation

Puffin 2 (DS)

Puffins back on the Isle of May

Puffin 4 (DS)

Up close and personal

Puffin 1 (DS)

Showing well!

Puffin 3 (DS)

Thousands ashore

Monday 3rd April comments: I’m making no excuses…today’s blog is dominated by one species; Puffins. Following the recent settled weather (just how nice has it been?) thousands of Puffins have responded and have come ashore.

All across the island, thousands of Puffins are back checking out old nest burrows and meeting up with their lifelong partners. If you enjoy these birds then I would highly recommend a visit at this moment in time as it literally is Puffin-tasic.

The birds will soon be spring-cleaning burrows and courtship will begin. The first egg laying should commence from mid-April and then the season will have really begun. Nothing beats the sight of Puffins and the Isle of May is one of the best places to see them, so come and visit.

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Island Open!

Sunday 2nd April comments: The Isle of May is officially open. On Saturday morning we opened our doors to the public and boats will sail (weather dependent) until 1st October. During that period we’ll welcome thousands of people, even more seabirds (we have 46,200 pairs of Puffins alone!) and the odd Grey Seal or two (we also have the largest Scottish east coast Seal colony!)

However before we opened we had to prepare the island for opening and thanks to the great team who helped including (from left to right on the photo) Ellie, Amee, Jo, Andrew, Gus, Ruari and Stuart. Over five days the team worked hard cleaning, scrubbing, sorting, painting, hammering and digging to help get the reserve ready for visitors and seabirds. It was a great week and much was achieved, so thank you team we couldn’t have done it without you.

So now onwards and upwards as we welcome our seabirds back and soon many will be on eggs. It’s spring and a new seabird season is starting…are you with us? Why not visit the wonderful Isle of May, you wont be disappointed.

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Confessions of a Narwhal…

Saturday 1st April update: Oh we wish we had a Narwhal….but sadly the date is the big give away as it is April Fools day after all…. Sorry to all those who fell for it, it would be a beautiful thing if we did have one, but sadly it’s not to be. In the past couple of years we’ve had Orcas and breaching Humpback Whale of the island but a Narwhal is maybe a step too far.

As Lee Harris tweeted me earlier: “You didn’t pull the NARWOOL over my eyes”.

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