Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A boat trip to the Isle of May

puffin rock isle of may

I think I can sum up my feelings about the Isle of May in one sentence - one of the best places I've ever visited with one of the worst journeys I've ever experienced.  I still maintain it was worth it, because PUFFINS, but looking at the photos still makes me feel queasy all over again... (speaking of photos, prepare for an overload!)

seals popping out water

sheep hat shetland wool week isle of may boat
Tam's mum got her hat finished!
male eider duck isle of may

ancient old lighthouse isle of may

facing the wind blowing away isle of may

First things first - we got the May Princess boat from Anstruther to the Isle of May, and the journey took about an hour each way, with 2.5 hours on the island.  I chose to sit inside both times because in the battle of me versus the elements (wind being my number one enemy), I'm never gonna win.  Tam's aunt and uncle sat with me on the way out - Tam and his mum bravely took a seat outside, only to end up with soaked feet - and the crossing was pretty choppy, although I perked up when we pulled into the harbour and saw all those seals popping out of the water to get a look at the boat.  We played the squealing tourist role to perfection.

With our feet back on dry land, we ate our picnic, surveyed the map, and had the pleasure of catching various pairs of gulls, um, right in the middle of mating season.  So...yeah.  Fun.  After lunch it was off to find the puffins!  The boat docks around the back of the island next to the small visitor centre and toilets (the only facilities on the island)and we decided to walk to the north end first then circle back round to the south.  On the way we spotted the original lighthouse, dating from the 1600s, and next to that was a much more modern version, the location of my wind tunnel moves.  Seriously, lean forward as far as you dare and the wind will hold you up!

Further along the path we found them.  Puffins.  Puffins everywhere.  All the puffins!

staring puffins hanging out rocks isle of may

flying puffins isle of may

puffins cliff waves isle of may

party puffins cliff isle of may

pair of puffins cliff isle of may

puffins cliffs isle of may

My friend had loaned me her long distance lens again and it was invaluable for catching shots of all the birds.  Not so much on the action shots (it's really slow and temperamental with focusing), although I did get some great photos when they were perched on the cliff edges and outcropping.  Puffins nest in underground burrows, and the eider ducks had theirs at ground level, so we had to stick strictly to the paths when we were moving around.  This wasn't an issue since there were plenty of spots to crouch down or manoeuvre around to get a better look, but we did have to watch our feet when walking since the ducks like to nest on the sides of the paths.

Finally getting to see puffins in real life was so fantastic, an amazing feeling.  They're such graceful flyers but kinda funny looking up close.  In a ridiculously cute way of course.  And they got even cuter when Tam told me the baby puffins are called Pufflings.  Dead from cute overload.

sea isle of may looking out

eider duck nesting isle of may

rusted canisters isle of may

matching hats knitted sheep shetland wool week

flatlay animal bird skulls broken beach china teacup

guillemots birds isle of may sea

birds flying over the sea at isle of may

Eventually we left them to it and walked along to the other end of the island, going by a man made loch and the ranger houses.  I'd expected to see more puffins dotted around but each species of bird seemed to keep firmly to its own spot.  Down the other end were shags, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and some more seals.  We even saw some baby shags in the nest, and a couple preening each other.  Now why can't I get Tam do my hair?

After a couple of hours on the island, it was back to the boat and out to sea again.  This time Tam sat inside with me while the others were on the upper outside deck.  When we left, I was mentally preparing myself for another wobbly journey but I just kept telling myself it would be over quickly.  Well, it wasn't.  It was also much worse than the outward trip, with the crew handing out sick bags and waves pouring over the boat.  On three occasions I thought I just might die, and all hopes I had of becoming a real life James Bond one day were dashed in the instant I realised I may throw up after all (I didn't. Just.)  Still, I made it to dry land again, and even managed a fish supper from our favourite chippy an hour later.  After spending the rest of the weekend feeling sick and dizzy though, I definitely can't claim 'I don't get seasick' any more...  Tam's mum, on the other hand, thought it was the best fun ever being up there as the waves rolled up, so we'll call her Jane Bond from now on.

On that note, I'll end by saying that, contrary to appearances, I would go back in a heartbeat.  PUFFINS.

isle of may boat may princess


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