My Dutch friends from Shetland, Melvin and Fiona stopped in at Loch Leven this weekend on their way home after 2 months of filming and photography up north. With the forecast looking favourable, and one more day of their stay in Scotland still to go, we took the opportunity to launch their Zodiac and set off for the Isle of May NNR, with the hope of photographing one or two of the Grey Seal pups.
It was an opportunity for them to develop more content for their ongoing project entitled ‘In de Noordzee – In the North Sea’– a project designed to engage people with the rich diversity of life that exists in our shared sea, both here and in Europe. With the number of pups expanding by the day, there was little doubt that we’d see them, but we did have to pick our landing spot carefully, so as to avoid disturbance to the seal colony.
Once we found a safe place to land, we made our way up to Fluke Street to meet reserve manager David Steel, who had also just welcomed to the island a group of 10 Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) scientists over to monitor the seal population over the next couple of months. For more information from the Isle of May NNR, follow Steely’s blog, which is packed full of information and regularly updated as he goes about his day-to-day business on the island.
With the clocks going back, we only had time to say a quick hello, a cuppa tea, a few glimpses of some of the more visible pups around the island, a quick look in the garden (1 Redwing, 1 Blackcap, 6+ Goldcrests), then back to the boat.
On our way around the east side of the island we were joined by as many as 100 seals, all following the boat along the shoreline and keen to stick with us all the way around the island! I also spotted a couple of Short-eared Owls from the boat, which I was particularly happy to have managed a record shot of.
The island is now closed to visitors for the winter, but the May Princess will be back in action next April, and if you’ve never been over before I can thoroughly recommend a visit.
A minor hiccup at the end of an otherwise super day was the lack of water in Crail harbour when we returned. A long wait for the tide to come back in for us to get the boat out of the water led to us seeing the second half of the rugby, and Melvin and Fiona getting to sample the joys of an Anstruther Fish Bar supper! Win win!