NI’s only puffin colony returns to The Gobbins

A puffin at The Gobbins. INLT-23-711-con
A puffin at The Gobbins. INLT-23-711-con

Northern Ireland’s only mainland colony of puffins have returned to the cliffs at The Gobbins in Islandmagee to breed.

The brightly-coloured birds dig burrows into the cliffs to lay their eggs and are expected to remain until mid-August.

The local attraction is the only place in mainland Northern Ireland where visitors can catch a glimpse of the birds.

Puffin chicks fledge the nest between 38-45 days after being abandoned by their parents. They leap from their cliff face nests into the sea.

The chicks then disperse throughout the North Sea and Eastern Atlantic; some may even reach the Grand Banks located off Newfoundland or the Mediterranean. They will mature there for four to five years before returning to The Gobbins colony, which contains approximately 60 birds.

Resident Tour Guide at The Gobbins George McGrand said: “It’s tremendous to once again have the wonderfully coloured Puffins return to The Gobbins cliff path after such a long winter wait. The first Puffin to return was sighted on April 15 which was right on the expected arrival date. It’s now June and we are delighted to see that the full colony has now returned. Now we wait patiently with bated breath to catch a glimpse of the first chicks of the breeding season which are expected later this month.”

The Gobbins’ Visitor Centre will soon introduce its new mascot, Paddy the Puffin.