Rathlin Island is a remote retreat for breeding seabirds, in fact it’s home to Northern Ireland's largest seabird colony. On the west coast of the island, the cliffs face the open Atlantic Ocean, and provide the ideal place for Puffins, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Fulmars and even Corncrakes to nest and raise their chicks. Wander over the clifftops and see how many seabirds you can spot on our off-road Roonivoolin walking trail. Head to the Seabird Centre from late April to early July for close-up views of Puffins and other seabirds gathering in their thousands. Or check out the unique ‘upside-down’ lighthouse that watches over the choppy seas.
As well as rugged cliffs, the reserve is made up of unimproved grassland and several lakes. Roonivoolin, located at the southernmost tip of the island, is where Lapwings, Corncrake, Snipe and Irish Hares thrive. Over the past 40 years, changes to farming practices have resulted in drastic declines for all of these species. We have been working to create the ideal habitats for Corncrakes at the Church Bay, Craigmacagan, Knockans and Roonivoolin reserves. Our efforts are starting to pay off and the birds are now regularly returning to Rathlin Island to breed, after a 20-year absence.