Not a bad week…

Thursday 2nd March comments: We couldn’t have planned it any better. Our first week on the Isle of May this year opening up the buildings and preparing for the new season has gone well and the weather has played its part.

The week has been dominated by glorious sunshine (although still a cold feel to the evenings) and the preparations have been going well. The buildings have been scrubbed, cleaned and aired as the team will be returning soon. However for now, we’ll be back off to the mainland but it won’t be long before we are resident for another summer (we move out in late March…).

The Isle of May opens up to visitors from the 1st April (boats virtually daily) and to visit the magical Isle of May check out the boat operators websites below:

May Princess (sails from Anstruther)

Osprey Rib (sails from Anstruther)

Seabird Rib (sails from North Berwick)

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Seabird Season Starting


Guillemots on the cliff ledges


…with plenty of Razorbills as well


Shags looking majestic in the sun

Tuesday 28th February comments: Today we had the chance to take a closer look at the islands seabirds and to see what was happening on the island. The cliff tops were action packed as thousands of Guillemots and Razorbills were present arguing over valuable cliff ledge space and preparing for a new breeding season.

The resident Shags were looking splendid in the winter sun (complete with crest) and although a few nest structures were complete it’ll still be several weeks before the first eggs are due. Fulmars were cackling away in the usual areas whilst small groups of Eiders could be heard displaying.

The new breeding season is just around the corner as the Island opens to the public on 1st April until 1st October. However between now and then plenty more has to happen including the return of our most famous resident…the Puffins. It’ll be that time soon, you have been warned…

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Winter Wonderland


Departing Anstruther harbor, Fife on a glorious morning


And the Isle of May was basking in sunshine


Not all good news in paradise…the winter takes its toll

Monday 27th February comments: With a settled spell of weather forecast, we took the opportunity to head out to the Isle of May NNR and continue the preparations for the new season ahead. However on this occasion we are spending five days out on the rock and we look forward to bringing you all the highlights as they happen.

Today was just about moving back on, moving kit and settling back in whilst checking the island. The early breeding season activity included good numbers of Shags around the island whilst Guillemots and Razorbills were very evident in the surrounding waters.

On the migrant front highlights include four Short-eared owls (which are over-wintering on the island), an adult Peregrine whilst an immature Glaucous Gull brought a winters feel to proceedings. Unfortunately a Merlin was discovered dead a casualty of winter mortality and a harsh reminder of the brutal nature of islands and the fine balance between life and death. With a full day on the island tomorrow, it should prove interesting and we’ll bring you more news from the Isle of May as we prepare for the new 2017 season. Bring it on!

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Build-up continues


Skipper Roy with his trusted boat; Osprey


land Ahoy! Approaching the Isle of May


Arriving at the island…looking quiet


Kit moved on the trusty ATV

Friday 24th February comments: The new season is fast approaching and today we took the opportunity to take some much needed kit out to the island. With the support of skipper Roy and his trusty boat Osprey (the boat takes passengers out during the summer months, more details:  we set sail to the island.

With calm conditions and generally a flat sea, we made good timing and we were soon arriving at the island. Over the next hour or so various supplies and stocks were taken up as the preparation for a new season continues. On the 1st April, the island will open officially to the public but before then it needs to be staffed, sorted and opened so plenty of pre-season work to do.

Over the forthcoming weeks we’ll be coming and going with full reports on visits (especially about what wildlife can be seen) as the Isle of May is gearing up for another seabird season. The next big question is who is coming? Are you up for a visit? If you’ve not been before, it’s highly recommended!

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40 days and counting…


Stunning drake Eider (now displaying)


Fulmar in flight


Shags back on the ledges

Monday 20th February comments: 40 days….until the Isle of May opens its doors to the public (interestingly the same amount of time a Puffin takes to incubate an egg before hatching). The first boats will sail on Saturday 1st April and we’ll be in full swing thereafter.

Slowly and surely spring is creeping ever closer and the seabirds are responding. Good numbers of Guillemots have returned to May waters and have been visiting the cliffs in anticipation of the new breeding season whilst the first handfuls of Puffins have been sighted. Large flocks of Eiders complete with displaying males are gathering offshore whilst Fulmars are currently stationed on their breeding ledges. Shags (who remain around the island all year) are back at nesting ledges and we’ll soon have a breeding season.

To visit the magical Isle of May check out the boat operators websites below:

May Princess (sails from Anstruther)

Osprey Rib (sails from Anstruther)

Seabird Rib (sails from North Berwick)


For further information on volunteering on the island please check out the link to the volunteer page (deadline is Friday 10th March):

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Volunteer on the May

Thursday 16th February comments: Are you looking for a unique opportunity to work on one of the country’s top seabird reserves? You may be looking to gain extra skills for the C.V. to break into conservation, a student looking for a placement or even looking for a career change. Then look no further.

We are offering long-term volunteer placements on the Isle of May which will give you the opportunity to work on this stunning National Nature Reserve. You will be involved in all aspects of the May with a range of monitoring, maintenance and visitor management tasks that will help with the management of the NNR.

Main Tasks

  • Species Monitoring: Carry out species monitoring work on ground nesting Arctic Terns (studying the success rate of the nesting attempts) and may include ringing of young.
  • Recording; help to maintain the daily bird log, recording butterflies and moths, carrying out tern predation monitoring and cetacean watches amongst others.

  • Visitor management when the visitor boats are on the island. Everyday visitors are landed on the island for up to three hours. The volunteer will patrol the paths chatting with visitors to explain the natural history that they can see while ensuring visitors act responsibly.

  • Undertaking practical maintenance works as and when needed to maintain the visitor infrastructure, the field station and enhances habitats and species. This can include all aspects of the reserve from toilet cleaning to practical habitat management.

    Date Required : April-August but length of contract and starting date can be discussed

For further information please check out the link to the volunteer page (deadline is Friday 10th March):

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Bean there before!


After passing over the May…the winds increased!


And back home to try another day

Sunday 12th February comments: Well would you believe it! Carl Mitchell of the Bean Goose Action Group forwarded information about the movement of Taiga Bean Geese over the island earlier in the week. Well once they had passed over the island, things got interesting…

Having set off on Monday morning in relatively benign, but not ideal conditions (medium southerlies) the Geese crossed the Isle of May just after 9am. However once out into the North Sea the skein were met with strong south-easterly winds as soon as they left Scottish waters. Presumably, half way across the North Sea the birds decided to turn back but were blown to Orkney (good job they did not disappear north west between Orkney and Shetland). They then moved to Caithness before heading due south back to the wintiering grounds near Glasgow!

With the new technologies available, it allows us a remarkable insight into failed migrations, how rare birds occasionally turn up and what happens to them afterwards. So the Geese are back but the next question is, when will they have another go and will they track over the Isle of May again? All will be revealed…

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