The Show Must Go On!

Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Friday 30th October comments: It’s been a busy week or so on the Isle of May NNR as we’ve welcomed the BBC Autumnwatch team to the island to film the Grey Seal pupping season (the first week is almost finished – where has time gone?) This special time of year has been captured on film and on live web cameras for all to see but it’s taken a lot of work behind the scenes to achieve what they have achieved so far.

The BBC team of three have worked long days setting up, checking equipment, filming (long hours in hides) and recording the daily lives of our seals. For us as island staff we’ve been on hand for all manner of tasks and information from moving equipment to making sure the accommodation is all up to standard. A snap shot into the pressure of getting everything right came…

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Michaela Strachan visits the May

Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Saturday 24th October comments: It’s been another busy few days on the Isle of May as the BBC team continue to prepare for the big Autumnwatch live which is being beamed from the island next Tuesday.

Yesterday we had the delighted of welcoming main presenter Michaela Strachan to the island to show her the place, conduct a few interviews and of course to meet the real stars of the show; the Grey Seals. Michaela will be based for two weeks at our mighty neighbours Tentsmuir on the Fife coast (you can see it from the Isle of May) which is another impressive National Nature Reserve owned and managed by NatureScot (for more information on the site check out the website:

Throughout the two weeks Autumnwatch will be beaming live from Tentsmuir but will be receiving nightly updates from the pupping seals on the island. The BBC will…

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BBC Autumwatch comes to Town

Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Tuesday 20th October comments: We’ve been building up to it but today the news is out that BBC Autumnwatch will be beaming live from the Isle of May next week. Main presenter Michaela Strachan will be based at our nearby Tentismuir NNR on the Fife coast but the team will have a live cameras set up to capture the drama of grey seals pupping on NatureScot’s Isle of May National Nature Reserve (NNR).

It’s a very exciting time as people will be able to enjoy the trials and tribulations of the grey seal colonies on the Isle of May from the comfort of their own home. The island supports almost 2,500 pups which are born each autumn at the reserve, making it one of the most significant grey seal pup nurseries in the UK. David Steel, who manages the Isle of May NNR, said: “The grey seal pupping…

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Slow Start

Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Monday 12th October comments: Its been a slow but steady start to the new Grey Seal pupping season out here on the Isle of May as the number of pups is low (we have six new born). However the first pup has survived its second week and with huge numbers of adults starting to gather around the island, it wont be long before we are in full swing.

The Isle of May is one of the most significant Grey Seal colonies on the east coast of the UK with other major pupping nurseries including St.Abbs Head area (Borders), Farne Island (Northumberland), Donna Nook (Lincs) and the North Norfolk Coastline. The latter site is now the UK’s largest with over 3,000 pups born per annum. Interestingly seal colonies pup incrementally around the UK coast in a clockwise direction as pups are born on the Welsh islands from early August with…

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More migrant Madness!

Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Tuesday 6th October comments: The weekend brought hundreds (if not thousands?) of migratory birds to the Isle of May and the last 24 hours has seen yet more arrivals. All across the island small birds can be found feeding, sheltering, roosting or generally just taking a breather as they continue on their migratory travels.

The island has seen some impressive numbers of Chiffchaffs (88 on Sunday, 79 on Monday), almost 200 Robins, Blackcaps reaching treble figures and much much more. Further unusual birds have included a Hawfinch whilst skulking Grasshopper Warblers are wonderful birds to see. As expected when a large arrival of birds occur so do the predators as three Peregrines, two Kestrels and two Short-eared Owls have been patrolling and taking advantage. Its incredible to see the Isle of May transform from an active seabird colony into a main east coast migratory station. Next…

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Seal Pup!

Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Friday 2nd October comments: Grey Seal Pup! We are celebrating (later than normal) our first Grey Seal pup of the autumn. The pup was discovered this morning on the north end of the island and confirms the late start to the season as we normally expect our first pup by mid-September.  

Female Grey Seals pup on the Isle of May from October-December (peaking early-November) and almost 2,500 will be born during this period making it one of the most significant Grey Seal pup nurseries in the UK. The mothers will feed their pups with milk for 16-21 days during which time the pup will gain an average of 30kg (66lbs). During the lactation period the female will lose up to 65kg (143lbs) of her body weight. Thereafter the pup will moult and the mother will leave as it has reached independence (it’s a harsh upbringing, independent at just…

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