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09 May, 2014

New Isle of May visitor centre

A stunning new visitor centre opened on the Isle of May this week.

The centre gives visitors to the national nature reserve a panoramic view of the island's scenery and wildlife, as well as providing plenty of useful and inspiring information.

Information displays will help visitors orient themselves and make the most of their time on the island, as well as giving information about the birds and the research taking place on the island, and what they can do to help the birds of the Isle of May.

The new centre complements the landscape, and is much more accessible and closer to the boats bringing visitors over to the island. It also has a green roof and the floor is made from re-used granite sets from a previous island building.

David Pickett, Isle of May reserve manager, said:

"We want as many people as possible to experience one of Scotland's top wildlife spectacles - nearly 200,000 seabirds in the peak season - first-hand. The new centre will make visitors' experiences even better by giving the information they need to make the most of their visit and to learn all about the island and the birds that make it famous.

"It will also be a great spot to have a break, look at the spectacular view and watch wildlife without having to brave the sometimes unpredictable weather of the island!"

The island welcomes about 10000 visitors a year from April to September.

The old visitor centre was a 50-year-old wooden prefab building, originally built to accommodate researchers. It needed increasing maintenance, the toilets weren't suitable for some disabled visitors, and the information displays were over 18 years old.

The seabird and seal experts who carry out their work on the island were consulted over the new centre's design to make sure that it has as little impact on the wildlife as possible.

It's free to visit the nature reserve, but you must take a boat trip to reach the island. Sailings are on the privately-run May Princess or Osprey of Anstruther from the Anstruther Harbour or through the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.

Anstruther - for tickets and details, see www.isleofmayferry.com (May Princess) or www.isleofmayboattrips.co.uk (RIB Osprey).

North Berwick - For tickets and details, book online on the Scottish Seabird Centre website at www.seabird.org or call 01620 890 202.

Known locally as 'The May', this small island sits on the edge of the Firth of Forth. The island's importance for seabirds has drawn scientists to its shores for many years and the May is home to the oldest continuously running bird observatory in the UK. The May is also a regular haunt for grey seals, often seen lounging on the shoreline rocks. This island is a historical gem and it's been a place of pilgrimage for centuries with an early island monastery. The May was also the site of Scotland's very first lighthouse, built in 1636, while the current, castle-like lighthouse was designed by the engineer Robert Stevenson.

ENDS

For more information, contact SNH press & public relations officers for Scottish Natural Heritage on 01463 725 022.

Notes for Editors

The Isle of May is one of more than 50 national nature reserves in Scotland. These are special places that look after some of the best of Scotland's nature on behalf of everyone who lives or visits Scotland, and they provide unique opportunities to visit, enjoy and learn more about Scotland's nature. For more information, see www.nnr-scotland.org.uk.

Contact information

Name
SNH Media
Email
snhmedia@snh.gov.uk
Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help people understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nature_scot

Tha Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba na buidheann comhairleachaidh dhan riaghaltas a thaobh nàdair agus seallaidhean-tìre air feadh Alba. 'S e an dleastanas a th' againn cuideachadh a thoirt do dhaoine gus tuigse, luach agus tlachd fhaighinn bho nàdar na h-Alba, an-dràsta agus san àm ri teachd. Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh, tadhail air www.nature.scot/gaelic  no lean sinn air Twitter aig https://twitter.com/nature_scot