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See puffins at the Isle of May

VisitScotlandJulieVisitScotlandJulie Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
edited August 2019 in Scotland's Islands
The Isle of May National Nature Reserve is a haven for nesting and migrating seabirds - including the massively popular puffins. This is the largest puffin colony on the east coast of Scotland. You can also spot whales, dolphins, seals and butterflies at certain times in the season. 

There are summer boat trips to the Isle of May from Anstruther on the Fife coastline and North Berwick harbour, east of Edinburgh.
I recently went on a boat trip from North Berwick and found that there was much more to this island than just the chance to see puffins. 

Seafari Adventures operates boat trips from the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick. Book ahead to ensure your place on this popular half-day trip. The trip timetable is posted online around February/March and you must book ahead of time. If you book a tour and buy a ticket for the Scottish Seabird Centre at the same time you can get a discounted price. Depending on the weather, the boat makes a stop at the Bass Rock to get a closer look at the gannets nestling across the rock face of this small rocky isle.

The Isle of May also has an interesting history. Did you know there are three lighthouses on the island?  One of them is still a working lighthouse? Another is the oldest in Scotland. There are remains of 6th and 12th century monasteries too. You can even stay on the island for a wifi-free holiday but you must bring all your own supplies of course.

On arrival, you have free time to explore the island with the choice to go on a walk with the expert guide or just grab a map and go at your own pace. Scottish Natural Heritage rangers live on the island and can help with any information that you need. 

On the way back we were lucky enough to witness a baby puffin (puffling) being released into the water. When a puffling is ready to leave the burrow,  it heads for the sea in the dead of night to avoid predators. Sometimes they can get stuck behind a wall or a bush and they need a helping hand from us humans. So the guides will bring them back out to sea and release them into safety.

The island closes to visitors at the end of September and opens again in April.

From Anstruther:

From North Berwick:


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