Monday, 22 July 2013

Another Guest Blog - Calum Bachell

During July I spent 10 nights volunteering on the Isle of May. I had previously worked on the island last July, however this time around was much different, especially in terms of weather - as it has been very hot compared to the torrential rain last year. The breeding times of some of the birds are noticeably different this year, likely as a result of the harsh winter. This meant the first puffin fledged only recently whereas they were everywhere last time around!
The jobs list was slightly different this year. Amidst helping with tourist boats and puffin ringing, I helped in monitoring gull predation on the Tern colonies, and was lucky enough to see some of the first tern fledglings -hopefully a good sign that they will be more successful this year compared to previous efforts.
The May Princess kept us busy, by arriving every day and bringing around 100 passengers to visit the island each time. Speaking with the visitors could be very interesting, as they ranged from first time visitors and keen bird photographers - to people who had been on, or worked on, the island 50+ years ago! I recently started trying my hand at wildlife photography and have enjoyed it greatly so far. My pictures may not be at a professional standard yet, but the Island seems to be the perfect place to get plenty of practice.

The low-light has undergone a substantial transformation between my visits, and is much nicer inside, making it a great place to enjoy a whisky (or two!). What hasn’t changed much, however, is the great attitude of those working on the island, whether for CEH or SNH. Some of the faces were new, many were familiar, but everyone there is passionate in their work and managed to teach me a great deal about the work required to monitor bird populations and maintain a nature reserve.

Towards the end of my tenure, staying up late rewarded me with stunning, starry night skies, clear of all light pollution, save for the occasional beam from the lighthouse. But this was nothing in comparison to a fantastic sunset on one of my last days on the island. I had a great time on the island again, and will hopefully be back before the season ends.

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