Wednesday 4 May 2016

Isle of May, April 2016

from Altarstanes harbour

(Apologies everyone, some glitch is preventing me from increasing the text size...)

A week on the Isle of May with: 
Susan Smith -
Kittie Jones -
Lara Scouller -
Liz Myhill -
Nye Hughes -

This was my fourth stay and, as seems always the case, my most productive week of the year so far. All day every day to spend outside, watching, walking, working. Wildlife and dramatic landscape everywhere you look. It's a seriously special place.

My previous visits have all been in June, at the height of the seabird breeding season. This time, beginning of April, only a bit of the breeding has started and the island feels a very different place. Shags were on their eggs and gulls were taking up their territories but the auks -puffins, guillemots, razorbills- were mostly not yet on the cliffs, and the eider ducks weren't yet nesting.


The Isle of May is a hugely important centre of research. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Isle of May bird Observatory Trust have all been involved for many years. Some more links:

Isle of May blog - keep your eye on this for frequent updates and photos

SNH island website - island homepage
SNH island website - how the island is managed
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - long term seabird studies

Really nice .pdf booklet here -
To watch the island on webcam, live, click here and here.

Some of my previous Isle of May blog posts and artworks:
2013 -
2013 -
2014 -
2015 -

Lara's 2016 island blog post -

Here's the island. In no particular order, and a lot of them. Get scrolling...

Low Light, where we stay

two robins

spot the chiffchaff

loch, Main Light, walled garden, bathhouse, Scotland's oldest lighthouse


black redstart, male

from Altarstanes

from Main Light

rain at sea

South Horn, spot the artist (

a day of showers


my first ever ring ouzel! honest.

St Aidrian's Priory -

Low Light, low light

short-eared owl, dusk sketches

short-eared owl, dusk sketches

shag pair

shag sketches

shag sketches

island graveyard



Low Light and spot the Bell Rock lighthouse...

see arch?

the Fluke Street loch

hundreds of guillemots & a couple of razorbills

Bass Rock

ink sketch. shag, fulmars, Bass Rock

Green Face cliffs

three-head guillemot, exceedingly rare

May Princess, Liz leaving

Low Light, last night

in the lighthouse keepers' bathhouse
South Horn from bathhouse window

a puffin day!

purple sandpiper. Altarstanes

one of many wet days. Altarstanes

one of many mist days

ditto. Pilgrim's Haven


trying-to-shelter sketchspot, in the giant's sentry box

in the giant's sentry box

Altarstanes, ink draw & wash

Main Light and mother
in the walled garden with goldcrests

shiny shags

behind Low Light

Kirkhaven habour, final sketch
leaving the island

Getting there:

Trips to the Isle of May are by boat from Anstruther in Fife using the May Princess or the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) Osprey, and from North Berwick in East Lothian on a Scottish Seabird Centre RIB

All details are here -

Do visit.

Low Light, good night