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Puffins?

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Puffins?

We will be in Belfast in mid- to late-April and my daughter wants to see puffins. We will not have a car, so we'll be relying on buses and trains. We also hope to see Dunluce and the Causeway, but have found a daytour from Belfast that would take us there. I can't seem to find any tours to see puffins, though.

We've looked at Rathlin Island, but it doesn't seem that we'd be able to work a public-transportation trip to Rathlin in enough time to actually get to see the birds for more than a few minutes. We're still trying to decide/find out if staying on the island for two nights and a day would be the way to go or not.

Is there anywhere else that we could go to see puffins (excepting a zoo?) that can be gotten to by public transportation? I'm wondering if we had better plan on trying to see the puffins while we are in Scotland instead, and free up more time for just sight-seeing in NI?

Advice would be welcome. - Nan

Belfast, United...
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1. Re: Puffins?

You might see single puffins here and there if you know what you are looking for, but there is nothing to compare with the colony in Rathlin. And you have to right to the colony. Even if you take the minibus to the end of the island you still can't see them. You need to go down the steps and through the (free) visitor centre at the lighthouse and then you see (and smell) quite a spectacle. You could consider staying in Ballycastle instead of on Rathlin. Ulsterbus route 252 which stops in Ballycastle is highly recommended.

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2. Re: Puffins?

I know Rathlin is supposed to be spectacular for puffins. : ) it's logistically difficult for us, though. Bus to Ballycastle ferry from anywhere nearby, then boat to the island, then walking out to the lighthouse, then back again in time to catch the ferry back to catch the bus... I don't think it would work. I was under the impression that the puffin bus only ran in the summer, not in April? And that the guy who drove the puffin bus was... well... he's had some bad reviews.

If that's the case (no puffin bus) the walk from the ferry out to where the puffins are would take at least a couple of hours each way? So, if we miss the first ferrys of the day, we couldn't get another 'til 10:30, arriving on the island close to 11:30. Then two hours out to the birds puts us at 1:30, assume an hour there (minimum, after coming all this way!), so it's start back at 2:30, get to the ferry at 4:30 tto find out the last ferry of the day left at 4pm! I can't seem to make this equation work.

When I check for accommodations in Ballycastle, only one hotel (well over our price range) comes in on TripAdvisor. Suggestions for places that are very close that are budget-minded (but not hostels)?

Belfast, United...
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3. Re: Puffins?

Have a look at www.yell.co.uk and you will find Bed and Breakfasts

North Coast, N...
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for Northern Ireland
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4. Re: Puffins?

rspb.org.uk/reserves/…seasonal_highlights.asp

There is a minibus which takes you to see the puffins/bird colony so you don't need to allow for a 2-hour walk to the ferry and back. there are also seals on the island.

If you stay overnight in Ballycastle, a trip to the island is easily done as a day trip. If you did happen to miss the ferry, ask around the harbour and you will almost certainly find someone with a speedboat who will take you over at a reasonable cost. And wrap up warm - it can be windy in exposed parts of the island and expect to get wet on the ferry over

Belfast, United...
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5. Re: Puffins?

There is a reasonable choice of accommodation in Ballycastle, or you could stay overnight on the island. Have you not had a look at the tourist board website? See www.discovernorthernireland.com

If you want to see the puffins, then you need to go to where they are. Stopping a mile away would be a waste of time.

Belfast
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6. Re: Puffins?

Have a look at this - Rathlin is undoubtedly the best place = you could even stay at Puffin Cottage !

www.habitas.org.uk/priority/species.asp…

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7. Re: Puffins?

Thanks for the link. We couldn't find anything about Puffin Cottage on it....?

Southampton
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8. Re: Puffins?

I just want to point out that puffins are migrants (and no-one really knows exactly where they go in the winter. Somwehre out in the north sea). April is at the very start of puffin season when they are first arriving. If the weather is good, you may see lots if they have arrived early in March. But it's equally possible, especially if it's been bad weather, that you will see none at all.

Belfast, United...
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9. Re: Puffins?

You say that the last ferry is at 4pm. I think that by late April the summer schedule will be in operational with a 6pm departure.

York, United Kingdom
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10. Re: Puffins?

There are also puffins in the summer in North Yorkshire ,near Flamborough Head