Year 10 Copeland’s Field Study

On Wednesday 19 September 2012 Glenlola Collegiate Year 10s went to the CopelandIslands.   I went in the afternoon with fourteen other pupils to learn about the work of The Copelands Bird Observatory and the history of the islands. We got there by a small boat from the coast of Donaghadee.  Our teachers took us there in the Glenlola bus before we got on the boat.

When We Got There     

On the boat journey we could see the Big Island where people live which is known as The Copeland Island; we also saw Mew Island which has a lighthouse on it.  The island we went to is actually called Lighthouse Island, because it used to have the lighthouse before Mew Island.  When we got there we docked and climbed up a hill with beautiful views of seals and the sea.  After dodging nets which are used to catch birds, we reached a set of buildings.  We were met by some volunteers including a man called Shane, who told us to sit down and have lunch while he told us about the research and the work being carried out on the island.

The Research that is going on

Shane told us that there are lots of birds and wildlife on the island and it gets a lot of birds migrating and passing through, especially in June time.  He told us about the different types of the Gulls, Robins, Dunnocks, Linnets and other types of birds.  We were really interested when he told us that some birds live underground and how when we are walking we are practically walking on the birds.  Also, we found out how they are trying to introduce puffins to the island.  They are doing this by setting out wooden puffins and playing puffin noises on stereos hidden as stones.  So when puffins fly around and see the fake ones making happy puffin noises, they are intrigued and come down to investigate. They do try and talk to the fake puffins but obviously they don’t get much talk in return!  The aim is to try and get the puffins to eventually move away from a neighbouring island and set up homes on Lighthouse Island.  The latest records show 15 Puffins nesting on the island.  Even though the birds and creatures are interesting, you could not overlook the fact the views and wildlife are beautiful. With the streams and plants it made a perfect wildlife destination, especially with sea next to it and the seals lying on nearby rocks. However, as Shane told us, they can keep track by ringing the birds.  It was very interesting because on the tour we were shown the ringing house where the electronic tabs on the birds are monitored, making it possible to keep track of every movement they make.  Also, a volunteer lifted out birds from their nests and showed us the baby ones which you could tell were young because they were moulting.

The Facilities

We got a tour of the facilities, and were surprised to see even though it is a 40 minute boat ride away it is fairly modernized.  The walls were made out of stone and there are wooden floors and some of the old buildings are still around from years ago.  There were 2 bedrooms, a common room and a kitchen, and even a toilet and shower rooms in 2 separate outside buildings.  There was also a ruin of the old lighthouse in the centre of the building.  There is a toilet further down the island as it is quite far to walk if you are in a hurry!  There are the basic modern appliances such as microwaves, cookers, heating and television.

The Interesting Facts and What We Enjoyed

We gained a lot of interesting information such as the names of the islands, and how to recognise birds we hadn’t even heard of!  We also saw how to ring birds and how to attract Puffins to the island.  We all enjoyed finding out about Puffins and seeing all the different types of birds.  We also loved seeing the beautiful scenery with the trees, the flowers and the sea combined.  Also a lot of us never realised there were seals off the Copelands.

The Overall View of the Trip

We had a great time on the trip and we all hope we will be able to visit again one day. Between the interesting facts, and the sights far away and close up; it was time well spent and a good day out.  We have learned useful information and we will always remember the day.  We were very grateful for the time Shane and the other volunteers on the islands gave to us.  They made sure we had a great day.

By Chloe Ferguson 10b