The Isle of May and puffins go together like bread and butter, like toast and jam, like haggis and Scotland. And this low-lying jewel of an island in the Firth of Forth was home this year to 46,200 breeding pairs of puffins – the clowns of the sea.
Puffins steal the glory but there are also thousands upon thousands of breeding pairs of kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, and greater and lesser black-backed gulls.
The Island Itself
With all those birds it is easy to overlook the island itself, so here is a short photo essay on the ‘island’ of the Isle of May.
The first photo below is a shot looking down to the small harbour on the eastern side of the island. The tide rises five metres (about sixteen feet), and the rocks between the two tides are covered in bladder wrack.
At high tide boats use the second landing stage. That’s the one with the red gantry nearer the bottom right of the frame.
And way over on the north side of the island is Bishop’s Cove, where the rocks drop sheer to sea in a tumble of layers and columns, while further around towards the west, the rocks are covered in bright yellow lichen.
Of LightHouses and Lightships
There are buildings on the island – from Second World War radar installations all the way back to the first Lighthouse that was built in 1636.
In this shot you can see the original lighthouse – a tiny white square in the distance – and next to it is the lighthouse that replaced it. The story goes that Sir Walter Scott was instrumental in preserving the old lighthouse from demolition.
The ‘new’ lighthouse is no longer used. There is now a lightship moored just off the coast. Can you see the helicopter hovering over the lighthouse in the first shot? It was transporting material between the two lighthouses.