LN896 06/06/2016 An early start from Dublin may not have suited those choosing to have a few Guinnesses ashore the previous night, but low tide could not be missed and we were under way by 07:15.

Flat calm seas ensured good views of the thousands of seabirds around Lambay Island with guillemots in huge numbers, both on the sea and on their precarious nesting ledges, as well as good numbers of kittiwakes, black-backed gulls, gannets, razorbills, and shags completing one of the most impressive seabird “cities” on this stretch of the Irish sea coast.

Half an hours steaming north brought us to Rockabill Island; a rocky islet with a lighthouse that is home to an impressive ternery that includes Roseate Terns, the rarest breeding seabird in the UK and Eire.  The rib was launched to enable photos of the ship to be taken with the lighthouse island in the background.  Rockabill is uninhabited but has a summer warden who helps protect the terns from predators by maintaining a number of open fronted boxes which deter airborne predation of young terns by gulls.

After the excitement of all this ornithology the ship’s routine was restored with lunch and quiet time followed by smoko and happy hour.

The day’s wildlife interest was capped off with a sighting of a minke whale – a 10metre long whale with a distinctive small dorsal fin – breaking the otherwise calm seas of the late afternoon.

For me, nominally the ship’s bird man, this was an unforgettable day with really close views of some of our finest seabirds.

Matt Kirk