Rathlin Island Walking Tours
with Paul Quinn
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April 2008

During the month I make two visits to Rathlin. There are no group bookings, so I have time to myself to look around. Spring is definitely here. Itís not difficult to spot guillemot, razorbill and puffin all sitting on the sea. Are they checking out the best sites on the cliffs for later on?

 

On land, a green hue is returning to the vegetation. The hares on the island have been seen sporadically over the winter but now they are limbering up for action. I keep an eye out for Mad March Hares doing their boxing but so far Iíve been unlucky. What I do see, as I eat my tea, is a group of fifteen or so hares all scuttling around, sitting down, scuttling around. Every now and then an animal squares up to another. It seems to dodge around its neighbour, just to draw attention to itself and this is repeated throughout the loose group of animals. Is it playful or purposeful, or a bit of both?

 

The best sighting occurs next morning soon after 9am. I have puffed up the hill past the Walled Garden and I am near the school. The weather is fine and I canít help gazing down below at the calm water of the harbour. Suddenly a dolphin jumps out of the water. It seems to be very close to the breakwater near St Thomasí church. Itís hard to say because of my position, but it canít have been more than ten meters from the rock armour. Thatís it, no more showings, even though I wait for another 15 minutes. In the brief glimpse that I got, I have an idea of the profile of the animal and size too. But it just seemed uniformly dark and my knowedge of cetaceans is basic. I submit the record to the IWDG. It comes back ďdolphin speciesĒ possibly harbour porpoise. My guess is common dolphin. Whatever the exactness of the definition it was smashing to see!
© 2008 Paul Quinn. All Rights Reserved. Additional title photography © Andy McInroy