The Isle of May hosts Scotland’s oldest bird observatory, founded in 1934. The observatory is administered by a charitable trust (The Isle of May Bird Observatory and Field Station Trust) and manned by visiting volunteer observers between March and November. The Observatory was founded by a group of young Scottish ornithologists and has continued to depend on the enthusiasm of amateurs who come to the island, usually for a week at a time, to maintain observations. The accommodation, for up to 6 people, is housed within the Low Light, a former navigational lighthouse. It can be booked, at a modest cost, by anyone who is willing to contribute to recording the birds and wildlife of the island. Find out how to stay or visit the island on the HOW TO VISIT page
The island, sitting 5 miles off the Fife coast in eastern Scotland, is a National Nature Reserve, owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage and is internationally important for its populations of breeding seabirds, particularly Puffins Fratercula arctica. SNH maintain an excellent blog about their work. The island is a major landmark from many coastal locations in eastern Scotland sitting at the mouth of the Firth of Forth. It is best seen from the Fife coast where it dominates the seascapes from the fishing villages of the East Neuk; Crail, Anstruther and Pittenweem.
The Island is known for its attraction of migrating birds and is well placed to receive “falls” of migrants in spring and autumn and the observatory visitiors record the movement of birds through the island including ringing them to learn more about their migration. Explore this website further to learn more about the observatory, the island and its birds and how to visit the island or contribute to the work of the bird observatory.
The Isle of May Bird Observatory and Field Station Trust is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Scottish Charity Number SC001783