Tuesday, 7 January 2014
The Isle of May blog was Scotland's first National Nature Reserve blog and has been so successful that other National Nature Reserves are following our lead and setting up NNR blogs as well.
Scottish Natural Heritage would like all the NNR blogs to have the same format and style so the island blog will now move across to a wordpress format. All the content of past posts has been moved across to the new blog so you will still be able to relive past island history by looking at past posts.
So this is the last post in the blogspot set up and from now onwards all new posts will be in the new blog so if you want to keep following what is happening out on that very special island you will need to follow the link below and set it in your favourites. Many thanks for following us so far, apologies for any inconvenience but I hope you can make the jump
New Isle of May NNR Blog address is : http://isleofmaynnr.wordpress.com
Saturday, 14 December 2013
Yesterday was a red letter day form me. I had been out on the island again for a 2 day trip to help the seal guys pack up and help the builders get started again. Heading off with a full boat of seal gear Simon from the Sea Mammal Research Unit mentioned that they had had good views of 2 common dolphins on the way out to the island. This wasn't a surprise to me as it has been a common occurrence over the 4 seasons I have worked on the island that I have always just missed dolphins but never actually seen any, not even any of the bottle-nosed dolphins that regularly patrol the East Neuk coast. But sure enough as we motored along the sheltered east side of the island bracing ourselves for the splashy trip back suddenly we were joined by 2 beautifully streamlined and smooth looking common dolphins. As they surfaced several times we saw their streaky patterned sides looking like boy-racers go-faster stripes and watched them lunging through the wake of the RIB. I couldn't resist a discrete air punch and am hoping that they will be like the no. 17 bus and having waited 4 years to see them once I might get to see them loads of times!
Saturday, 30 November 2013
The island's photographer-in-residence for this year, Celine Marchbank, has made her latest visit to the island to see the seal season. She has now seen the island through all seasons from early in the year, peak seabird season, the late summer quiet time and now at the start of the seal mayhem. You can read more about her visit and see some of her photos on her blog:
Follow this link for her blog posting showing her latest photos
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Dinner time has an vital role in the day to day life of the residents of the May, it is sometimes the only time you will get to see other residents so it is social, it is for information sharing and it is for getting answers to questions, and during the seal season this is no different. On my recent trip it proved to be a lively dinner time and the conversation ranged to many seal topics and beyond.
For instance it seems that many seals have returned to the island for the breeding season in great condition, which for a seal means really fat and heavy. This good as it means that the females then leave in good condition which can set them up well for their moult and the next year. Also the pups get plenty of food which gives them a good start. Indications are that pup mortality maybe down on the previous year which fits in. But why have they come back so fat? Where have they been feeding?
Also why do different seals have different moulting strategies, most moult in early spring but some will moult immediately after weaning their pup.
Then there are all the day to day discussions about which pup belongs to who? which female has pupped and when? and where have certain females gone? This leads onto planning of work programmes about which tagged animals are to be caught and by who? and programming work for the rest of the season. Boat movements are much more difficult during the winter due to the weather and limited landing opportunities on the island so these are all planned around the dinner table. And sometimes things veer towards more unusual subjects like what is the best way to get a skeleton of a seal cleaned up and prepared for use as a student teaching aid. Luckily this had no effect on my appetite and the huge lasagne was just what was needed after a day outside in the field. So good company pondering unknowns, discussing practical science and loads of good food. Just the same as the seabird season.
Sunday, 24 November 2013
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Once on the island you have to throw out your map of the island that you use in seabird season. The no-go areas during the summer can suddenly become no problem whereas summer access-for-all parts of the island become impossible to get to now. Seals appear in all sorts of places, one this year has pupped all the way up at Burnett's leap - maybe she liked a view. All of Kirkhaven is impossible to get to with a couple of hundred females pupping all over the beaches, jetties, tracks and flat areas. This is why we have to close the island to the visitors from the end of September.