Isle of May – National Nature Reserve

The Isle of May National Nature Reserve (NNR) lies on the east coast of Scotland, in the entrance of the Firth of Forth. For its small size it has a tremendous variety of wildlife and is renowned for its rich bird life, seals and reefs. During the summer months the cliffs on the Isle of May are home to spectacular seabird colonies, and in the autumn the largest Atlantic grey seal colony in eastern Britain breeds on ‘the May’, as it is known locally. In the spring and autumn, the island is an important site for migrant birds passing to and from their breeding grounds.

It is one of over forty National Nature Reserves (NNRs) in Scotland. Scotland’s NNRS are special places for nature, where some of the best examples of Scotland’s wildlife are managed. Every NNR is carefully managed for both nature and people, giving visitors the opportunity to experience and enjoy our rich natural heritage.

The island is managed by NatureScot as a National Nature Reserve for wildlife and people.

Professor Sarah Wanless BNA Vice-president and recipient of the Peter Scott Memorial Award in 2019 has been doing research into Puffins on the Island.

Visit this link to find out about the animals on the island and how to visit.

Help Hedgehogs in Sussex

Hedgehogs have had a hard time lately.
These days many children have never seen a hedgehog, in fact numbers are so low that one of our favourite garden animals is now at real risk of extinction.

Let us know when you last saw a hedgehog
It takes just 30 seconds to fill in our hedgehog sightings form with the details we need. Your sightings will help us understand more about Sussex hedgehogs and how we can best help them.
Your hedgehog sightings will be kept by the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre here at Woods Mill, and we’ll email you the results once they are collated.

Photo © D. Farrar

Scotland’s Largest Conservation Charity Supports New Marine Protections

Conservation charity The National Trust for Scotland has welcomed the announcement by the Scottish Government and Marine Scotland that an additional 12 marine sites around Scotland have been given Special Protection Area (MPA) status.

The charity, which cares for significant stretches coastlines and islands such as Fair Isle, Canna and St Kilda has long advocated additional protections to ensure the wellbeing and recovery of Scotland’s sea habitats in order to sustain the marine and avian species that depend upon them and, ultimately, to mitigate against climate change.

The seas around St Kilda are one of the new areas receiving special protection status.

The National Trust for Scotland’s Head of Conservation and Policy, Stuart Brooks said:

“The National Trust for Scotland welcomes the announcement of 12 new marine Special Protected Areas (SPA) and four new Marine Protected Areas. These will help protect and conserve our marine environment and bird populations. For example, the new Seas off St Kilda SPA will strengthen protections for the marine foraging area and prey on which the millions of seabirds that St Kilda is famous for depend upon. The new MPAs will also enhance protection for species like basking sharks and Rosso’s dolphin’s, as well as protect marine geological features. However, we strongly encourage the Scottish Government needs to go further to fully protect our seas and wildlife for current and future generations. To function effectively, SPA and MPA designations must be supported by strong management plans and appropriate investment. There must also be adequate enforcement of existing restrictions in protected areas.”

“The Trust is also concerned that the proposed SPAs around Scapa Flow and the area north of the Orkney mainland have not been taken forward. We encourage the Scottish Government to work to progress these sites to protect wintering bird populations as well as the feeding grounds of bird populations in the North East. We’re acutely aware that existential threats still exist to protected areas – such as the proposals by MOWI to establish a potentially damaging large-scale salmon farm in the Sound of Canna – and we hope today’s announcement heralds a new determination to ensure such threats are minimised.”


Success with Beavers in Somerset

Beavers have built a dam on Exmoor fr the first time in more than 400 years.

The rodents were released into the wild in Somerset in January this year as part of a National Trust project to restore streams and reduce flooding.

Beavers became extinct in the UK in the 16th Century due to hunting, but have been successfully reintroduced at a handful of sites in recent years.

The trust said the dam “might look modest, but it is incredibly special and had “created an instant wetland“.

Wildlife camera footage shows the beavers gnawing trees and collecting vegetation to build the dam at the Holnicote Estate near Minehead.

Their construction can allow for deep pools of water which offer animals shelter from predators and a place to store food.

Environmentally, they can also work as natural flood-defences, helping to reduce the risk of flooding to homes.

National Trust project manager Ben Eardley said: “It might look modest, but this beaver dam is incredibly special – it’s the first to appear on Exmoor for almost half a millennium and marks a step change in how we manage the landscape. What’s amazing is that it’s only been here a few weeks but has created an instant wetland.

“We’ve already spotted kingfishers at the site, and over time, as the beavers extend their network of dams and pools, we should see increased opportunities for other wildlife, including amphibians, insects, bats and birds.

photo by Ben Birchall

Rare Plant Discovered in Norfolk

A rare plant has reappeared after more than a century in hiding.

The pinkish-flowered plant, known as Grass-poly, was found growing on the banks of an old farmland pond in Norfolk.

The mystery species “came back from the dead” after seeds submerged in the mud were disturbed during work to restore the pond.

And scientists say conservation efforts could lead to the return of other long-forgotten botanical gems.

Carl Sayer, a professor at University College London (UCL), stumbled on the plant when he went to survey the pond at Heydon shortly after the first national lockdown ended.

photo by Rob Peacock


Read the latest Newsletter from the Seahorse Trust

Seahorse Trust Autumn Newsletter-2020