Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Rathlin Island part 2

OK so I know I am a little behind but i will try to catch up, honest!

Spent the evening exploring the cliff tops around the RSPB seabird centre. The centre was closed for the night and the only other person around was a person camping [not allowed!].

I can't describe the scene that greets one as the approach road from the harbour ends and the new stone visitors centre is reached. Huge rock stacks with stacks of auks gathered for the evening; thousands of them crammed onto every space available. Kittiwakes and gulls circling around too, calling and adding to the cacophony. Ravens, gannets, fulmars, pipits, thousands of fabulous birds and on this occasion weather to match despite a strong North wind.

Health and safety people would have fits but I love to peep over the edge of a high cliff and did so to look down on razorbils and guillemots by the thousand, puffins in the tens and all busy doing what birds do at this time of year; pair up, mate and lay eggs.

A chough flew past and a great skua [205] flew along a grass ridge at the top.

Ridges climbed, cliffs looked over and photographs taken. The views here are wonderful. The cliffs are immense and the surrounding fields are full of thousands of heath spotted orchids.

To the north the islands of arran and Islay could be seen and to the east, the headland that includes Cambeltown. Just visible was Ailsa Craig where large groups of gannets, all adults and sometimes flying in a v formation, were heading.

11th june 2010

Awoke to the sound of auks and seabirds. A twite [206] landed on the fence near the tent. Heard a foghorn as the fog descended after breakfast. The phantom foghorn of Rathlin Island -there isn't one at the lighthouse!

Met Stephen and John as they opened the lighthouse viewing platform and shop on the lower level. Sea fog had come in after a reasonably fine start to the day and as i walked onto the viewing area overlooking the birds on a nearby stack I am not ashamed to say i had a few tears. What an amazing view! Thousands of birds, a terrific noise and all in a fantastic setting. This has got to be one of the RSPB's jewels in their crown. A fabulous place.

People arrived after Stephen kindly gave me a cup of coffee; a Japanese group which included a small, frail but very active 90 year old, a man from Slovakia and a lady named Katrina who was here to make a documentary on seabirds for the Gaelic TV channel. She eventually interviewed me, after spending over an hour with Liam, the warden doing the same.

Thanks to John and Sue from Welford, Northants for their donation.

Heard the story of Prince Edward and Sophie's visit to the island. Don't believe everything in the Daily mail; the meal in the pub was great according to the pair, or so the locals told me.

Photos with Liam, Stephen and John - all brilliant people and so very welcoming to one and all; followed by goodbyes and a cycle back to the harbour. Met there by Katrina who took some photos and footage of me leaving the island on the boat.

A truly wonderful day.

If you ever get the chance, visit Rathlin Island RSPB reserve. it would be worth the effort but make sure you go when the seabirds are on the cliffs. Be aware that the seabird centre is 4 miles from the harbour but there is a bus service.

Next time goodbye to 'Norn Ireland' and a ferry to the Isle of Man. Clarkson's house and hot, sunny weather, castles and government.

All the best everyone,


1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    I work for RSPB N.I in the youth and education team. Was actually over working in rathlin at the end of June. Sorry I missed you! I really admire what you're doing. Keep up the good work1

    Jen Martelli-Brown