Environment

Out and About: Visitors set to flock to Rathlin Island as bird centre reopens

Puffins can be seen at the West Light Seabird centre on Rathlin in May and June
Andrea McKernon

TWITCHERS and casual bird watchers are expected to flock to Rathlin Island for the reopening of the Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre later this month.

The RSPB-managed seabird centre has been closed in recent years for refurbishment, but reopens to the public on Thursday March 24 when visitors can again see tens of thousands of birds, including puffins, razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes, jostling for space on the island's sheer cliffs.

A drive to Ballycastle and a trip on the Rathlin ferry, then on to the puffin buses that will bring you to the bird centre, and a walk back down to the ferry, is the perfect day trip.

Smartpass holders get free travel on the ferry and Rathlin's Roonivoolin way-marked walk is perfect for looking out for buzzards, peregrines and ravens. Irish hares also run about and are in their March madness at this time of year.

The Rathlin West Light refurbishment has seen a complete upgrade of the visitor centre and, for the first time, it will be possible to access the ‘upside down' lighthouse built on Rathlin's cliffs.

:: Book the ferry at rathlinballycastleferry.com or 028 2076 9299. Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre will open from 10am until 5pm every day until the end of September. Admission is free for RSPB members, £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. See www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/reserves/guide/r/rathlin or call 028 9049 1547.

COLIN'S PACKED PROGRAMME

COLIN Neighbourhood Partnership in west Belfast has organised an entire month of events and activities, with many outdoors, until March 31.

A spring dander at Colin Glen forest park, led by the Belfast Hills Partnership, is taking place on March 12 from 10.30am to 12.30pm while there's a build a bird box workshop on Saturday March 26, from 1pm to 3.30pm.

Other activities include how to build a cob oven, for endless supplies of pizzas from your back garden, and fishing trips to Co Down for adults on Friday March 11, and for families on Saturday, March 19.

Contact Colin Neighbourhood Partnership for more information on 028 9062 3813 or view the events on the website at www.newcolin.com.

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