Rathlin Island Walking Tours
with Paul Quinn
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July 2009

This month kicks off with a spell at the Seabird Centre, where numbers of both birds and visitors are high! There is the added bonus of blue skies and some sun. Peregrine are spotted out over the stacks but thet do not seem to be bothering with the other birds. The oystercatchers are back with young at the same location as two years ago, so hope they are successful. Amongst the guillemot throng are two partially-albinistic individuals. Chicks can be seen and heard all around.


A contractor is busy on the island cutting hay. It is unusual to see so many yellow fields forming a patchwork on the landscape. When you get a bit closer to an individual field you can see that it is a popular spot for Great Black Backed, Common and Black headed gulls.


The RSPB has opened up new walking trails at Roonivoolin, towards Rue Point. I walk the area twice on my own and get great views in pleasant conditions.(In between my visits, the site is officially launched to great acclaim, and the visiting VIPs are treated to some great views of chough.)


In recent weeks the appearance of the island has changed significantly. Roads Service has been doing work to surface roads which consisted, for many years, of limestone tracks. Lorries carrying material and plant have been shipped over on special sailings and now smooth black bitmac replaces the old white roads. Progress indeed, but I will miss the Wild West effect of billowing dust that used to mark the progress of a jeep along a dry track. Another advantage of the white roads was that they were easy to stay on at night if you were walking.


A second visit with a group follows. We travel over on the St Sorney and enjoy seabird views and great walking. The return ferry trip is much rougher than expected. The St Sorney is about to be replaced on the run by a new vessel... I wonder is this her way of saying "You'll not forget me in a hurry!"Later I enjoy watching the Rathlin Drama Group perform two one-act plays in the Community Hall.


At The Rue I hear whimbrel and see a pair of peregrine with a juvenile bird. The fields that were yellow a fortnight ago are now returning to green. My day ends with my first trip on the RATHLIN EXPRESS back to Ballycastle. What a great boat.

© 2008 Paul Quinn. All Rights Reserved. Additional title photography © Andy McInroy