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Another successful season at Isle of May - 07-NOV-2012 : Press Release Details


Another successful season at Isle of May


The Isle of May national nature reserve has had another successful year for visitors, both human and winged, in 2012.

One of the highlights for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) reserve manager, David Pickett, was the successful breeding of both terns and kittiwakes.

David said:

"For the first time since 2008, we had good numbers of tern chicks fledge from the island. I can't tell you how exciting it is to see small groups of chicks in full plumage hanging around the edge of the colony. It was also a very successful year for kittiwake chicks, after a drop in their numbers in last few years."

There were plenty of popular events over the summer as well, with SNH holding a Living History day, a Lighthouse Day and a Seal Day, all of which were well attended. SNH plan to hold open events again in 2013.

The bad weather over the summer did have an effect though. It was a poor year for puffins, with about half of the pairs not breeding successfully, and for fulmars, mainly due to the bad weather. However, these birds are long-lived and adapted to have occasional poor breeding years. In fact, one puffin caught on the island this year was found to have a ring on its leg that showed that it was at least 34 years old.

Perhaps in part because of the bad weather, virtual visits to the island were up - the May's blog ( had 30,000 views over the 2012 season.

SNH encourages visitors to the Island from Easter to the end of September. The main boat service, the Anstruther-based May Princess, and her enthusiastic and knowledgeable crew carried 5871 people over the Firth of Forth to the island reserve this year, while the RIB boats increased their passengers to 969. Visitors can also reach the Isle of May from the East Lothian side of the Firth at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.

At the Seabird Centre, 30,350 people have viewed the Isle of May live video action in the dedicated Isle of May Zone in the Discovery Centre, as well as more viewing the live action on the Isle of May cameras at

Known locally as 'The May', this small island sits on the edge of the Firth of Forth. The island's importance for sea birds 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.

The May now has no human visitors until April. This allows the thousands of grey seals which make the island their home, the fourth largest breeding group in the UK, to raise pups before the boat service starts again.

SNH owns and looks after the Isle of May as a national nature reserve and it is also a European Special Area of Conservation for its seals and rocky reefs. The over 200,000 seabirds have made the island a European Special Protection Area for these birds.


Media queries

Contact SNH media officer, Vicki Mowat, on 0131 316 2659 or (Tues-Fri) or the SNH main press office on 01463 725 021 (Mon).

Airson na meadhanan GÓidhlig cuiribh fios gu / For Gaelic media enquiries contact:

Emily Edwards, SNH Inverness, 01463 725 148, See SNH's Gaelic Langauge Plan, approved by B˛rd na GÓidhlig, at

Notes for Editors:

1. The Isle of May NNR is one of over 50 NNRs in Scotland. Nature reserves are special places that look after some of the best of Scotland's nature on behalf of everyone who lives or visits Scotland, and they provide unique opportunities to visit, enjoy and learn more about Scotland's nature. For more information, see

2. Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at SNH media is also now on Twitter at

Author: Vicki Mowat
Contact: SNH Press Office