Isle of May reopens after bird flu closure


The Isle of May is open to visitors once more after closing last year due to an avian influenza outbreak.

As of 1 April, boat operators have been sailing to the National Nature Reserve. NatureScot, who manage the reserve, said staff are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the island, which closed last year for five weeks to help protect seabirds from a devastating outbreak of bird flu.

The Isle of May is home to thousands of breeding seabirds (Dave Williams).

To allow access to islands, a series of biosecurity measures and ways to minimise disturbance to birds have been implemented, including disinfecting footwear and restricting access to certain areas when necessary.

Visitors to the Isle of May will be asked to use disinfectant foot baths on departing mainland harbours and arriving on the island, and to stay on designated paths as they enjoy their visit.

NatureScot reserve manager David Steel said: "We're really looking forward to welcoming people back to enjoy the Isle of May, which is a really magical place in spring as thousands of seabirds return to this important wildlife reserve.

"It was heartbreaking to see the impact that avian flu had on colonies around our coasts last year and while a difficult decision, closing the island was the right thing to do to protect our seabirds. While we don't yet know what impact the virus has had on the birds that nest here, we hope that this will be a better year for them. 

"We ask that visitors help us to help them by following the biosecurity measures that will be in place, and would like to thank boat operators for their support in implementing this."