Seabirds on the bill

The ever-popular puffin on the Isle of May. Picture LorneGill/SNH.
The ever-popular puffin on the Isle of May. Picture LorneGill/SNH.

A special weekend planned for the Isle of May will give visitors the opportunity to learn more about the multitude of birds who make the island their home.

Experts will be on hand to talk about the puffins and other seabirds which make the Isle of May so special, there will be bird ringing demonstrations and the chance to see what puffins get up to in their burrows – with the help of a miniature camera.

Telescopes will be set up at viewpoints on the island, and laptops will show seabird movies including spectacular underwater footage of shags. Visitors during the weekend of June 27 and 28 can also learn about the research taking place on the island which is helping us understand our seabirds.

David Steel, SNH’s Isle of May reserve manager, said: “This is a great chance to discover more about our breeding seabirds and delve into the secret lives of our most famous residents, the puffins. We’ll have researchers and experts on hand to answer questions and show you what goes on behind the scenes of the Isle of May.”

Known locally as ‘The May’, this small island sits on the edge of the Firth of Forth. The island’s importance for seabirds has drawn scientists to its shores for many years and the May is home to the oldest continuously running bird observatory in the UK. The May is also a regular haunt for grey seals, often seen lounging on the shoreline rocks. This island is a historical gem and it’s been a place of pilgrimage for centuries with an early island monastery. The May was also the site of Scotland’s very first lighthouse, built in 1636, while the current, castle-like lighthouse was designed by the engineer Robert Stevenson.

Although it is free to visit the nature reserve, you must take a boat trip to reach the island and advance booking for the Scottish National Heritage event is essential through the May Princess, RIB Osprey, or the Scottish Seabird Centre. More information is available at ww.isleofmayferry.com, www.isleofmayboattrips.co.uk or www.seabird.org