As we are halfway through our field season here, I thought it would be a perfect time to introduce myself. I’m Nathan, and I’m the final member of the three Musketeers that make up the MBiol students here on the island. Three years ago, I started my Durham degree doing Natural Sciences (Biology and Economics), so to be sitting on the Isle of May in my fourth year of my integrated Masters is quite a shock. We’ve truly settled into island life now, with my 5:40am alarm not driving me to tears anymore. One thing that I’ve found amazing is watching the sun rise and set every day. Doing behavioural observations, we’re severely limited by daylight, and thus must make the most of every minute of sun. I’m so used to rolling out of bed at midday, it’s been very refreshing to see the sun so much.
It’s been a cold and dry autumn here on the May. I’ve had to use the rain cover for the camera once, and, even then, Sean told me to take it off because it was “only a little bit of drizzle”. Although it has been quite frigid (who knew sitting still in 30-40mph winds for a few hours could be chilly), the weather hasn’t been good for the seals unfortunately. The lack of water means that some mothers will routinely leave their pups to commute to pools of water, often several hundred metres away from their pup. An interesting fact about grey seals is that their pup recognition skills aren’t the best. You’ll routinely see a mother return from the sea and sniff every pup in the general area she left her pup, trying to locate it, which often results in conflicts with other mothers! If you ever wanted an example of evolution not being perfect, watching a pup fall off the same (small) cliff 4 days in a row, so its mother couldn’t find it, is a perfect example.
There’s a lot I never expected from my time here. I’ve learned how to make and maintain a coal fire, my cooking skills are increasing exponentially (Sean and I are made sushi for 13 last night!!), and I’ve learned how to brew beer. It’s been a surreal experience so far, and I don’t think I’m ready to return to ‘normal’ life, where going to bed at 21:15 is probably frowned upon.
Until next time!