Saturday 8 June 2013

Isle of May. Day one.

Saturday 8th June

On the inflatable orange rib 'Osprey', Colin the boatman, myself and five others departed Anstruther harbour for the Isle of May. A perfect flat sea, hot sun, clear sky. Two aeroplanes scored a saltire vapour trail into the sky above us.       
Guillemots started to appear on the water, and gulls, a shag, a razorbill... puffins! As we got closer and closer to the island there were many of all of these. We passed close to the high south cliffs and the smell of guano was strong. Birds perching and nesting on any available ledge. The moans and cries of seals echoed from caves.

SNH Warden Dave took our baggage by quad bike to the Low Light and we made our way up by foot.
Unpacking, choosing a bed in the 3 twin rooms, cheese (smoked applewood) tomato sandwich, then out. I stayed out from 2 until 8.

The island is small but there is SO MUCH to see. Birds are everywhere and as this is breeding season we must strictly stick to the paths. Often you see a gull or eider or tern nest, or a puffin burrow, only a foot from where you walk.

I sat happily and painted a razorbill that sat, seemingly relaxed, on a pinnacle of rock. And a guillemot further on. The razorbill had pencil under-drawing, the guillemot didn't. Both are watercolour. A5.

On my way back it started to lightly spit with rain. I kept my hat on through the Arctic tern colony - they shriek and dive at you and have been known to graze heads. As I approached Low Light the evening sun pushed again past the clouds and a rainbow arced through the air. Hundreds and thousands of puffins flew stoutly over and beside and past me. And now it's time for bed.

Today on and around the island I've seen: 

Lesser black-backed gull
Great black-backed gull
Herring gull
Rock pipit
Pied wagtail
Arctic tern
Common tern
Pigeon (not pure Rock dove)

19 bird species 

Also many rabbits, a good number of seals, and at least one small tortoiseshell butterfly.

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic day to begin your week on the Isle of May! I'm so delighted you have a web signal and a smart phone so I can experience it with you - almost as though I was there...if only...Enjoy!