New Nesting Habitat Created for Local Black Guillemots


The black guillemot or ‘tystie’ is one of our most charismatic birds with important populations breeding along our Coastlines.  Much of our local population breeds around the northern coast and their distribution is largely determined by the availability of suitable nest cavities that are safe from land predators such as rats, mink, stoats and otters. The expansion in the range of black guillemots in recent years has been in part assisted by the availability of man-made structures including, jetties, piers and harbour walls as nesting sites.

The harbour walls at Glenarm provide an ideal nesting habitat for these birds, as the old wooden structures within the walls have rotted over time and left nesting holes which are perfect for the needs of the Guillemot.  Boat owners and visitors alike are charmed by the presence of these fascinating birds during the breeding season. The numbers of breeding pairs have significantly increased since the first pair utilised the harbour wall in 1976.  By providing additional nesting niches it is hoped the population will continue to increase.

Council Biodiversity Officer, Maurice Turley explained: “The much admired Black Guillemot has been identified as one of our most important local species in the Mid and East Antrim Biodiversity Plan, and it is important we assist and promote this species.”

Recently staff from Larne council in partnership with the Glenarm Wildlife Group undertook a project to improve the existing habitat for the birds, as well as create new nesting habitats.  The work involved carefully removing soil and dead wood that was present within some of the ‘holes’ preventing the birds from using these areas as a nesting site.Black_Guillemot01

Glenarm Wildlife Group member, and local resident Jacky Geary said  “The work undertaken to improve the nesting habitat in Glenarm Harbour will undoubtly help this much loved local species, and we look forward to the birds returning to breed and taking up their new homes.”

The work was carried out as part of the Mid and East Antrim Local Biodiversity Action Plan.  All birds and their nests are protected and must not be disturbed during the breeding season.  The Mid and east Antrim LBAP is supported by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.  If you would like to find out more information about the Mid and East Antrim LBAP or have a biodiversity project in mind you can contact the Council Biodiversity Officer on 028 2827 2313