I am now back in London, having had a fantastic time on Rathlin Island and having completed my placement. The whole experience has been unrivalled by anything I have ever experienced before.
The final week at the RSPB Seabird Centre went smoothly, although there were very few breeding birds left to show people so late in the season. However, it was great to see so many people who were enthusiastic about coming to the centre to learn about the conservation of RSPB despite our lack of puffins and guillemots. We also had some extra excitement around the centre last Friday, when committee members involved in the Northern Irish parliament came to Rathlin Island and visited the Seabird Centre for a presentation about the proposed new marine bill, aiming to establish Marine Protected Areas and increase conservation efforts in coastal areas of NI, including Rathlin Island.
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.
And so, my first week at Rathlin Island has come to a close. The views are just as breathtaking as ever, and I feel that I am slowly getting used to the relaxed atmosphere on the island. The weather is very unpredictable, with winds bringing different weather from both NI and Scotland. As for the RSPB seabird centre, unfortunately a majority of the birds that were left have flown away for their winter migrations. The few that are left are mostly fulmars and kittiwakes, with the occasional guillemot and gannet flying around. Today I also saw my first great Skua. However, there is still an abundance of things to share with the visitors, from puffins heads (the poor things that had been caught and killed by peregrine falcons, eaten, and their heads and legs left behind) to guillemot eggs to a number of RSPB bird and nature books to peruse.
I have arrived at Rathlin Island!
I am currently sitting at McCuaigs pub, enjoying one of the few sources of WiFi on the island. The pub overlooks the harbour, from where I can see all the way to the town of Ballycastle in the mainland of Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is my first time in NI and the views are absolutely spectacular. I have just started working at the RSPB Rathlin Island Seabird Centre two days ago.
I applied to be a residential volunteer with RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) in early April, and was happy to get a position working and staying on Rathlin Island.