Trip reports

Isle of May

Isle of May
Bridled Guillemot - Dave Stewart

Friday, 10 June 2016

After an early departure from Edinburgh for most, a total of 31 members and friends turned up at Anstruther on a cool but dry June morning. After checking in we all boarded the ferry for the 10:15 cast off for the Isle of May. As we headed towards the island the numbers of birds seen around the boat gradually increased, initially the odd Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin or Gannet flying past, then ever increasing numbers in the air and even more on the water.

Due to the direction of the swell, we didn't sail round the island but headed straight in to land at Kirkhaven harbour. On the way into the harbour we saw our first Common and Arctic Terns perched on the rocks. After landing, there was a brief introduction from the reserve warden, following which the group split up with some heading South and the others North. Being my first visit I wanted to cover as much of the island as I could in the 3 hours available. Before going anywhere we had to get past the dive bombing Arctic Terns, a hat being essential for protection.

On the cliffs and rocks at the South end of the island every nook and cranny was occupied by Razorbills, Guillemots, Puffins, Kittiwakes or Shags, some of the Razorbills showing the Puffins that they aren't the only ones that can hold multiple sand eels in their bills. A Rock Pipit was also seen collecting food. From there I headed past the South Horn then North towards South Plateau then up to the Main Light. Our visit coincided with the first day the newly refurbished Main Light was open to the public so the climb to the top was rewarded with 360 views of the island. While having my lunch there was a Sedge Warbler on a stunted tree in the walled garden to the West of the lighthouse.

At the Northern end of the public path the rock face to the West held a good number of Fulmars on nests. The route back took me past the Low Light and more Arctic Terns on the path down to the visitor centre. Once back on the boat we cruised along under the cliffs at the South end of the island, with great views of all the nesting birds, before heading back to Anstruther. To finish off a great day perfectly, all bar a couple of the group went to a local chippie for a fish tea.

Dave Stewart