How to Visit

For general booking inquiries download the booking form or contact the Bookings Secretary: Mark Newell on or call him on 07909 707971

RIB Osprey carrying Observatory visitors

Bird Obs bookings 2021

All 2021 weeks are now fully booked. Should any cancellations occur a note will appear on this page.

The ongoing Covid conditions are continuing to have a major impact on all walks of life including the operation of the Isle of May Bird Observatory (IOMBO).  It is inconceivable that the Observatory will reopen in a normal fashion in April 2021, accommodating parties of six individuals.  The Observatory can only reopen by abiding by governmental rules while also needing to cover its annual and operating costs.  As a result, the difficult decision has been taken to only seek bookings for the second half of the 2021 season; (beginning 31 July) in the hope that an adequate number of households can be accommodated to make opening viable.  We would hope that this timing would   also permit several weeks of work parties prior to 31 July in order to open up the Low Light and make headway on Heligoland trap replacement which has now been set back by two years.  It will also support a period of paid occupancy by staff from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) to conduct their long term seabird work during a period in the summer when the demand for places at the Low Light is less than during migration periods. A

If prior to 31 July, there is a significant change in circumstances which could allow more use of the Low Light, we would advertise that to members of the Trust and on the Observatory website. We will keep a close watch on Government guidance as ever. At this stage, a notice of preference for those weeks from 31 July onwards will be taken from February 1st following the usual priority stages as outlined on the booking form, with ‘successful’ groups being notified at the end of each period.  As the situation remains unsettled, bookings do not need to be secured with a deposit in order to avoid unnecessary transactions in the event of weeks being cancelled.  Payments will be requested nearer the time.  It will only be possible to open the Observatory if Government rules allow at least three individuals (or households) to stay. Otherwise it is not financially viable. When requesting a week please be mindful that the fewer households there are in residence the more likely this will comply with government Covid rules. 

The observatory can accommodate up to 6 visitors usually staying for a week, arriving and departing on a Saturday, though individual arrangements can be made where bookings and boat arrangements allow. The observatory is open from mid-late March through to early November. Those staying are expected to carry out the observatory duties during their stay including keeping up a daily bird and migration log and recording other wildlife sightings. 

Approaching the observatory buildings down “McLeod’s Path”

All prospective visitors are encouraged to contact the Bookings Secretary for up to date news on availability and to receive a booking form.  The current weekly charge (including the boat) for 2021 is £160. Transport to the island is provided by the RIB ‘Osprey’ or the “May Princess” subject to weather, tide and other logistics, these boats also run regular day trips to the island from Anstruther. For further information, check out their websites: 

Heading to the Isle from Anstruther

Additional information on visiting the island and its status as a National Nature Reserve can be accessed through the SNH website. 

The Isle of May is a remote island, with difficult access, uneven terrain, cliffs, deep water and other hazards. All Observatory guests are asked to take great care and suitable safety precautions when staying with us. Health & Safety Risk assessments for Observatory Residents are available by clicking here