Sunday, July 12, 2015

Irish Details - the Second Day

Day 2 in Ireland involved taking a ferry out to Rathlin Island, six miles off the coast.  There are three lighthouses and large seabird colonies to explore.  This is from the ferry, looking across the South Lighthouse on Rathlin out to Fair Head on the mainland, where we walked the day before.

The first day's hike was long and over difficult terrain.  So our idea was to take it easy and rent bikes for the second day.  Little did we know how out of shape our bike-riding muscles were!

Rathlin has some interesting local building traditions.  These stone fences with cone-topped gate posts were all over.

At the western edge of the island, large seabird colonies can be found.  Here's an example.  These birds are mostly Guillemots, with some Razorbills mixed in.

The big draw here are the Atlantic Puffins.  They nest near the base of the sea cliffs.  You can see two here, near the small burrows they call home.  They are mixed in with a few Razorbills.

Black-legged Kittiwakes also nest here, using ledges on the cliffs to raise their broods.

Volunteers from the Royal Society for Protection of Birds were at the lighthouse, pointing out interesting things to the tourist observers.  They gave us a great hint - on the way back out, look for an "evil-looking" bird at the top of the cliffs, by a rock.


We did find the bird, as promised.  Actually, two birds:  Ireland's only nesting pair of Great Skuas.  These are heavy, gull-like birds that raid nests and eat young, earning their evil reputation :)

Here we are on the way back to the harbor, with a lovely church and a bright hillside of gorse, or whin, behind.

Lastly, we have one of the golden hares of Rathlin, partially hiding and very wary of what on earth we were doing.


Then, my first glimpse of the bird known as a Robin in Europe, which is nothing at all like our Robins.  Still a very sweet bird, with a wonderful little song.

Nothing left after that except a choppy ferry ride back to our home away from home in Ballycastle:

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