Hello again from Rathlin Island!
I have nearly reached the end of my first two weeks here and it is hard to imagine where all the time has gone. The days tend to blur together with working at the seabird centre and spending the evenings socializing with other volunteers and locals. I feel very comfortable around everyone I have met here, and am getting better at managing things at the seabird centre. Just a couple of days ago I was given the responsibility of opening up the centre with the other volunteers while the boss was running an errand. Although everything went smoothly, we had an interesting beginning to the day when we found that the gate to the centre was open and approximately 40 cows had invaded the welcome area and bus park of the centre. It took an extra 20 minutes for us to usher the cows out of the gate along the Cliffside, making sure they were out of harm’s way both from the cliff and the incoming buses.
Although nothing else quite that bizarre has happened, there is plenty to keep us busy at the centre. I have learned to recognize the signs of kittiwake and fulmar chicks that are preparing to fly – one that is nesting just a few metres below the viewpoint has been flapping its wings as if it wants to take off. We have also had a lot of sightings of birds of prey such as peregrine falcons, ravens, buzzards, and gannets. I also spotted my first oystercatcher a few days ago. The visitors also have interesting stories to tell, from other RSPB reserves they have visited to the species of birds that they get in their backyards. A few days ago we even had a MP visit the seabird centre
Sometimes we will run into some of the day’s visitors in the island pub later that evening. It is strange and nice to be in a place where one is so easily recognized and where so many people all know each other. There have been relatively many events occurring on the island this week, from the rathlin run (a half marathon around the island) to live music nights at the pub. Tomorrow, the town if ballycastle, where the ferry from the mainland departs for rathlin island, there will be a festival called the lamas festival. As I have been given a day off tomorrow, I think I will take the ferry back to ballycastle and see what festivities will be on. After that, there is just one week before my placement as a residential volunteer is over. It should be an interesting week, as the centre is closing for the season and so there will be lots to do in the way of closing up the centre.
As promised, here are some photos of the seabird centre. The stacks in the first photo are what we can see from the seabird viewpoint, and are home to the many bird species that breed in the area. The other shows a fulmar chick being fed by its mother. Neither of the photos are very good quality, but as soon as I get back and have access to my own computer I will be able to upload many more photos!