Rathlin Island is a small island with a population of around 80 people.
wildlife paradise is a rugged outcrop just six miles off the North Antrim coast.
Two hundred thousand birds pack onto its cliffs and sea stacks in spring.
- Rathlin Island.|
Photo c/o Chris Packham.
is renowned for its geology, being made up of layers of basalt on limestone.
is also surrounded by limestone and basalt sea cliffs which are 470 feet at their
It's a strong hold for the Irish Hare and a great place to
see stunning displays of spring flowers.
The island has a rich history
- it's where Robert the Bruce was said to have been inspired by meeting a spider
in a cave.
It's also where Marconi made his first commercial radio broadcast.
Rathlin is also a bird watchers' paradise with tens of thousands of seabirds.
western end of the island boasts impressive basalt cliffs - in fact the island
shares the same volcanic heritage with the Giant's Causeway and Staffa.
cliffs are home to Northern Ireland's most impressive bird spectacles with an
amazing number of Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Puffins.
come to Rathlin to breed - its remoteness means that it's a safe environment with
a plentiful supply of food.
The black Guillemot is a frequent visitor -
it's the rarest member of the Auk family and you'll only find them on the western
fringes of the UK.
They're often amongst the easiest birds to see and are
often spotted hanging around harbours and piers.
Spot them by looking for
their scarlet legs and the intense red on the insides of their mouths.
The one thing that sets them apart is the white flashing on the upper and underside
of their wings.
Irish Hare haven
island has no hedges and few walls to interrupt your views so there's a great
chance of seeing one of Northern Ireland's special mammals.
Irish Hare is a species of hare you'll only find in Ireland.
that the hares are probably an off-shoot from Mountain Hares that were stranded
in Ireland when the Ice Age ended.
They are very different from the hares
on the mainland - they have smaller ears than a normal Brown Hare together with
a white tail and a russet coloured coat.
You can find the Irish Hare anywhere
from the mountain top to grazing in sand dunes by the sea.
In the rest
of the UK Brown Hares are found on farmland whilst the Mountain Hares tend to
be up in the hills.
Rathlin is an island relatively untouched by intensive
farming and hunting so the hares have been left alone and have flourished.
look out for a genetic mutation - the Golden Hare of Rathlin which is a lighter,