Skip to main content

17 September, 2014

Isle of May Homecoming Weekend gets seal of approval

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will mark the Year of Homecoming by celebrating the Isle of May's wildlife over the weekend of 27 and 28 September.

A full programme of activities will be on offer for visitors including songs and stories which tell of the creatures, both real and mythical, that call the island home.

Staff from the Sea Mammal Research Unit will be on hand in the new visitor centre to answer questions about the seals which return to the island at this time of year to have their pups. Seabird experts will have telescopes set up at viewpoints and there will be bird ringing demonstrations by members of the Isle of May Bird Observatory.

There will also be information about the East of Scotland sea eagle project, and Alexa Tweddle, Fife Council’s biodiversity officer, will have news about wildlife surveys in which everyone can get involved.

David Pickett, the Isle of May reserve manager, said: “The Isle of May has been a stopping off place for travellers for thousands of years, both people and wildlife.

“This year we will be celebrating the Year of Homecoming on the island by looking at the seals that will be returning to the island to breed, the migrant birds moving through to their winter grounds and the people that have passed through in the island’s history. We also mark the end of another visitor season on the island.”

Advance booking is advised.

It’s free to visit the nature reserve, but you must take a boat trip to reach the island. Sailings are on the privately-run May Princess or Osprey of Anstruther from the Anstruther Harbour or through the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.

• Anstruther - for tickets and details, see (May Princess) or (RIB Osprey).

• North Berwick - For tickets and details, book online on the Scottish Seabird Centre website at or call 01620 890 202.

Known locally as 'The May', this small island sits on the edge of the Firth of Forth. The island's importance for seabirds has drawn scientists to its shores for many years and the May is home to the oldest continuously running bird observatory in the UK.

It is also a regular haunt for grey seals, often seen lounging on the shoreline rocks. This island is a historical gem and it's been a place of pilgrimage for centuries with an early island monastery. The May was also the site of Scotland's first lighthouse, built in 1636, while the current, castle-like lighthouse was designed by the engineer Robert Stevenson.

Notes to editors

The Isle of May is one of more than 50 national nature reserves in Scotland. These 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

Contact information

SNH Media

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

’S e NatureScot buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Bidh sinn a’ neartachadh àrainneachd na h-Alba agus a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu barrachd suim a chur ann an nàdar. Tha e mar phrìomhachas againn gum bi nàdar na h-Alba beairteach agus gun dèilig sinn gu h-èifeachdach le èiginn na gnàth-shìde. Tha an tuilleadh fiosrachaidh aig no air Twitter aig