Seal of approval for May Isle

Seals on the Isle of May
Seals on the Isle of May

A weekend of wildlife celebration is taking place at the Isle of May as Scottish Natural Heritage marks the Year of Homecoming.

A full programme of activities will be on offer for visitors this Saturday and Sunday,including songs and stories which tell of the creatures, both real and mythical, which call the island home.

Staff from the Sea Mammal Research Unit will be on hand in the new visitor centre to answer questions about the seals which return to the island at this time of year to have their pups – and the first ‘newborn’ has already arrived.

Seabird experts will have telescopes set up at viewpoints and there will be bird ringing demonstrations by members of the Isle of May Bird Observatory.

There will also be information about the East of Scotland sea eagle project. Alexa Tweddle, Fife Council’s biodiversity officer, will have news about wildlife surveys in which everyone can get involved.

David Pickett, the island’s reserve manager, said: “The Isle of May has been a stopping off place for travellers for thousands of years, both people and wildlife.

“This year, we will be celebrating the Year of Homecoming on the island by looking at the seals that will be returning to the island to breed, the migrant birds moving through to their winter grounds, and the people who have passed through in the island’s history. We also mark the end of another visitor season on the island.”

Advance booking is advised. It’s free to visit the nature reserve, but you must take a boat trip to reach the island.

Sailings are on the privately-run May Princess or Osprey of Anstruther from the Anstruther Harbour.

For tickets and details, see (May Princess) or (RIB Osprey).

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.

It 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 first lighthouse, built in 1636, while the current, castle-like lighthouse was designed by the engineer Robert Stevenson. See