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TN puffin


        Where oh where is the Puffin to be found. ?


      Rathlin Island, Co Antrim.

zwildflower2Sitting here perched high like a sea bird on the cliff face of Rue Point on the East end of Rathlin Is. near the South Lighthouse, I find it hard to take in that we only left home at 3.30pm yesterday.

We decided on Sunday night after hearing that the Puffin can be seen on Rathlin, to travel North in search once again in search of this elusive bird. This beautiful bird can live to be 35 years old, lays it's single egg in a burrow in the ground and returns to the same place each year. Last years trip to Tory Is. proved to be too late as the Puffin had already departed with their young. Tory Is. is beautiful with lots to interest the Bird watcher and well worth the trip.

We drove to Buncranna in Co. Donegal for our overnight stop, and found a secluded spot on a mountain road where we spent an undisturbed night.P7070009 - Copy (2) Rosie felt at home on the rough terrain and nestled in comfortably along the mountain track. it rained a lot during the night which added to the music of a deep sleep. It was the first opportunity to find out if our 39 tent was watertight. Dry beds all round and we headed off soon after 7am.

We continued to cross the mountains in the direction of Derry and The Foyle Bridge. The cloud was low and we drove in the morning mist. The first glimpse of Derry City on The Banks Of The Foyle was a sight to behold as the sun made a brief appearence through a gap in the cloud. We stopped for a moment to see. Once over the Bridge we drove on along the north coast just ahead of the morning rush hour. Soon we stopped for breakfast at White Park Bay. The sun was out now although it was still a little cold. We took a walk down a steep slope towards the beach. The information board said that an old fashioned tea room was situated at the harbour on the west end of the beach. Hot Chocolate .....

We saw meadow cranesbill a scarce flower to these parts growing wild on the slope to the beach, and the once well used Youth Hostel now boarded up due to vandalism. The new one  stands proudly high upon the cliff. P7080018


We passed some nesting gulls and some pidgoen like birds, they were noisy and shouted at us to move along there we are giving our wee-ones their breakfast. We did as we were told.



We walked along the shore and to our surprise a herd of cattle lay sleeping in the morning sun, "let sleeping cows lie" we walked quietly on.





We then met the farmer who had come to move his cattle before the incoming tide arrived to trap them. At the Harbour the tea-room seemed long since closed (no hot chocolate today), but an amazing little church very well cared for was tucked in under thr cliff.







The sun is getting warmer now as we return to the awaiting Rosie. This place will be on our list of beaches to re visit and explore some more.


Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is nearby so this seems like the right oportunity to stop there.  







It is a famous tourist attraction and the car park has a number of cars already. the 1KM cliff-walk has a lot of visitors coming and going.  the bridge was origionally used by fishermen with just one rope for a hand rail. Today it feels very safe to cross and a little bit thrilling, possibly a bit scary for some ! It is worth the stop and the staff are very welcoming.

 P7080071Next stop.

The Car Ferry Terminal at Ballycastle. We made inquiries about a cash machine as we had just a few pounds sterling left over from a previous visit north. We were assured that the post office on the Island has a cash machine. The crossing was really smooth and just 25mins. We could see Mull of Kintire clearly, it seemed so near. P7080073Ashore we made our way to the Post Office, alas the machine would only accept Northern Ireland, as did the machine in the pub,

No Guinness tonight then!  It's not the first time that we were living on a shoe string.P7080074 P7080075We had food in our bag so we wouldn't get too hungry, and enough money for bread, chocolate, and the best fish and chips. Emma's Chip Ahoy served us first class Fresh Pollock with home-made batter and some chips for lunch, one between two and enough cash left for the same again tomorrow if the fancy takes us.  We sat outside at the table's provided and enjoyed our lunch in the sunshine.

P7080085P7080081We took the road East past the Kelp House, which was once the main form of income on the Island. With the extraction of Iodine from seaweed until it became cheaper to make it from chemicals.On the white rocks along the shoreline Jimmy found a shoe from a "one legged pixie", and a piece of crockery from times past.

Are we being Birdwatched ?

P7080090P7080092We past some basking seals digesting their lunch, pollock perhaps. Then past some lakes where It gets it's water supply, on past Roonivoora coastal nature reserve. One pair of chough have been seen here, they are becoming very scarce, we were very lucky to see a couple of pair on Tory Is. last year. At Ushet Port many seals were taking sun with their young. It looked like a good place to set up camp, but the nesting Gulls and Terns had a different opinion. We respected their request and moved along.P7080095P7080098 Further up the cliff at Rue Point we found a home for the night. To our delight the Guillemot were nesting with their young just along the ledge from us. A family of Cormorent were happily sharing the ledge with them. No one seemed uneasy with our presence so this was the right place.WP 20140708 002 - Copy 1

We had a wonderful picnic of Cooked Prawns, Blue Cheese, sundried Tomatoes, "Ormo Bread" and fresh fruit, proper slumming it food. Later as we lay in our "Room With A View" the late evening sun carressed our pleasently tired relaxed bodies. we enjoyed some chocolate and the contents of a hip flask which to our surprise was Captain Morgan a Spiced Rum. WP 20140709 018 - CopyIt was some time ago that it was filled and we had forgotten the delights within. After a peaceful restful night's sleep we awoke to the sound of a symphony of bird calls and the drumming and crashing of the sea as it ebed and flowed in and out of the crevices and openings of the cliff 100ft below.

The sunshine and the spectacular beauty of the Antrim coastline beguiled us. As we ate breakfast we were aware that we were part of a reality movie which seems unreal !

Slowly and mindfully we withdraw from our surroundings to see what Mother Nature has planned for us elsewhere on this beautiful Paradise Is. The morning sun warms our backs as we leave the East side and arrive at the Harbour. A local man is working to clean the Public Toilets and remove litter from the area. These are the cleanest public toilets that we have used anywhere on our travels around Ireland, and with lots of hot water too.WP 20140709 022 - Copy 1

P7090099Our Information booklets tell of a Castle and Cave which are on private property and not accessable (pity). we took the road West For the Nature Reserve and Bird Santury. Along the way we took a path out along the cliffs. There were sheep below on the shoreline 100ft down. Mountain sheep so skillful and surefooted, we feel a little envious. there are seals basking with their young, Guillemot and Razor Bills buzy preparing lunch for the wee-ones. We too feel the lunchtime call and perch high above them for our energy boost. Further along we see and hear hundreds and thousands of Guillemot and Razor Bills on the large Cliff Rocks below. The sight and smell were equally breath-taking. We met some walkers in search of the Puffin, but were dissapointed not to have seen any.lighhouserath The Light House at this end is very unusual in it's type as the light is at the bottom. It is closed for renovations which have not yet begun, and it is the only access point with a viewing area to see where the Puffin nest and breed, we too were dissapointed.puffins (2) we would like to see this unique Lighthouse as much as to see the Puffins that take shelter and seek refuge to the rear of it. The visitor centre is also closed for the same reason and there is no sign of work comencing there either. "Maybe this season visitors could have continued to view the Puffin as they will soon be leaving with their young" (just our observarion and opinion). We crossed a fence and met some visitors from Northern Ireland and New Zealand who showed us some Puffin below on a grassy patch. We could see them clearly with our binoculars and got really excited as we saw their distingtive brightly coloured flat orange feet. We pointed them out to an Italian couple who were also in search, they had a camera with a long range lens and were able to get a better shot than us.WP 20140709 017 - Copy This was our first time to see the Puffin and we were as excited as we were when we saw a Guilemot for the first time on the beach in Trawlua a few years ago while we swimming with a friend in winter time. guillemot

Our return walk to the Harbour was with light feet as we were walking on air. we stopped to talk to a woman living on the Is. She has a cottage rented there for a year. She has fallen in love with the Is. and wonders if she will ever return to her home in Portrush. We connected with her even in just our 20 min. conversation. She gave us some Brandy balls to suck along the road.WP 20140709 023 - Copy

Nothing left now but to spend our last sterling on two creamy pints of Guinness while waiting for the last Ferry. It was the Car Ferry this time. We had cheesy smiles and twinkling eyes as we looked back to see the places where we had spent two magical days of giving and receiving the Love of Mother Nature.

What more is there !          flowerline