Rathlin land set aside to save bird species at risk


THE ROYAL Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has purchased 52 hectares on Rathlin Island in Co Antrim as part of its drive to safeguard threatened birds such as lapwing, choughs and corncrakes, it announced yesterday.

The land forms part of a larger walking trail totalling some 120 hectares which was officially declared open on the island yesterday. The walking trail is in the southeast of the island, away from the better-known site in the west of Rathlin that features birds such as puffins, guillemot and razorbill.

The society hopes the purchase of the land and the walking trail will benefit birds such as choughs which have only recently started breeding again on the island.

Choughs were extinct in Northern Ireland for nearly 10 years and bred again last year on Rathlin after a 19-year gap.

The RSPB also hopes that the protected land will assist in attracting the corncrake back to Rathlin, and help protect the lapwing whose numbers have declined by more than 60 per cent in Northern Ireland.

Rathlin is a popular destination for bird watchers. Its bird population includes buzzards, peregrines, kestrels and visiting golden eagles and red kites.