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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Punctual Puffins land back on Rathlin - home to Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony

Puffins on Rathlin Island. (Credit: Ric Else)

The first puffins have landed back at the RSPB’s Rathlin West Light Seabird centre.

Each spring, the return of puffins on Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island, Rathlin, is an eagerly awaited event. Like clockwork, Rathlin’s punctual puffins have landed back on almost the same date for the past six years, making their first appearance before the clocks spring forward at the end of March.

This year, the first puffins of the season were spotted on Saturday 26 March, the exact same date they were spotted in 2020 and just one day earlier than they were sighted in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The puffins returned to one of the UK’s largest seabird colonies, which also includes kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars and guillemots, to nest and raise their young before returning to their life out at sea in late summer.

RSPB NI Rathlin reserves warden, Liam McFaul said:

“The first puffin sighting of spring is always an uplifting sight. On Saturday morning we glimpsed the bright orange feet and colourful bills of our first puffins to arrive back to the island. Over the next couple of weeks, more puffins will be returning to nest in burrows and raise their young.”

Liam added: “Despite puffins being listed as an endangered, red-listed species, one of the best places to see them in Northern Ireland is at the RSPB West Light Seabird Centre which will be opening again this Easter.

“Visitors from all around the world enjoy their antics, as the adult birds take it in turns to incubate their single egg from late April or early May and share the feeding duties until the chick is ready to fledge.”

The RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre will be reopening on 15 April until 20 September. Visitors will be able to experience the sights and sounds of Rathlin’s seabird city, including spotting puffins, from the cliff-side viewing platform.

Nature-lovers visiting the island can also enjoy RSPB NI’s new 2.1km walking trail at the Craigmacagan nature reserve, where they can take in Rathlin’s breath-taking views and rugged scenery, at this wildlife haven. There are eight outdoor trails to explore on Rathlin, including RSPB NI’s Roonivoolin trail at the southern point, which offers another opportunity to discover the islands spectacular scenery.

For more information about visiting the RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre or RSPB walking trails visit:


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