The Isle of Man is a great location for wildlife with
everything from birds of prey to cliff dwelling birds and creepy crawlies.
get off your sofa and take a trip across the water to witness some sensational
great wildlife adventure. |
Photo - Isle of Man Department of Tourism.
The Isle of Man became an island when it was cut off from the British
mainland as sea levels rose when the last Ice Age ended around 10,000 years ago.
to legend the island was formed when the Irish giant Finn McCool lobbed a huge
piece of earth from what is now Northern Ireland at another giant in Scotland.
Finn's aim was poor and he missed - and the rock landed in the sea, becoming
the Isle of Man.
The Isle of Man has a surprisingly diverse range of landscapes
and habitat given its relatively small size - the island is just 33 miles long
and 13 miles wide.
Its scenery ranges from mountains and valleys to sandy
beaches and woodland glens.
This is a great island for wildlife spotting
including some special animals that you'll struggle to see in such densities elsewhere
in the UK.
island's location in the heart of the Irish Sea means that it's a great location
for bird watching.
One of its rarer species is the Chough, a member of the
crow family - this is a great bird to see in the winter months, especially on
the coast when most other cliff dwelling birds have disappeared out to sea.
best place to find this bird, which is also known as the Celtic Crow, is the south
and western coast of the island.
Chough are cliff dwelling birds and the
Isle of Man is perfect for them because it has lots of rocky coastline with fields
coming down to the coast where they can forage.
The mild climate, a result
of the Gulf Stream, means that there is plenty of insect life to feed on.
In winter the Chough gather in large flocks so it's relatively easy to spot
them, and you can also hear their noisy calls that sounds like a che-oww.
good place to find these birds is around the cliffs on the south of the island
perched on high or feeding on seaweed on the beach.
The Chough is slightly
smaller than a Rook with a red, slightly curved beak and red feet.
live almost exclusively on coasts, often nesting in sea caves - the west coast
of Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Isle of Man are some of the few locations
where these glossy black birds can be found.
These birds are very rare in
England and are only found in significant numbers in Cornwall.
more than 300 Choughs on the Isle of Man, which make it one of the best places
to see them.
As well as Choughs, look out for Rock Pipits, Rooks, Hooded
Crows, and Shelduck.
Birds of prey
Isle of Man is also a good place to see owls and birds of prey.
of Man has a healthy population of Barn Owls - watch out for their hunting behaviour
as they fly about ten feet off the ground looking and listening for prey.
fact this is the number one spot in the whole of Western Europe to find one raptor
that's a must-see for any birder.
At the Close Sartfield Nature Reserve
visitors can see one of the island's great natural spectacles.
runs a Hen Harrier Watch where dozens of these wonderful birds of prey fly right
over bird watchers' heads!
These birds roost together in the same place
and in this part of the world more than 80 birds have been known to come back
to spend the night.
In fact the Isle of Man has the biggest Hen Harrier
roost in Western Europe - its heather uplands are ideal hunting territory for
The difference between a Hen Harrier and other birds of prey
is that they are very large winged, with a 'v' shape, and long tails.
birds fly out onto the moors hunting other birds and small mammals - once they've
spotted their prey, they swoop down for the kill.
This is a bird that's
in serious decline elsewhere in the UK but is doing really well in the Isle of
Man because of the habitat.
The Hen Harriers like the island's expanses
of moor, the plentiful supply of food and the large number of safe places to roost
such as conifer plantations.
of the creatures that lives on the Isle of Man is unusual in that it spends its
whole life in total darkness.
The British Cave Spider is found across the
UK but only in sites where there's no daylight such as cellars caves and tunnels.
giants of the spider world are amongst the biggest British spiders, but because
they live in total darkness, they often go unnoticed.
The sit around in
caves catching the occasional fly, gnat or woodlouse.
One of the distinctive
features of this habitat are the balls of silk hanging down from the cave ceiling
- these large teardrop shaped cotton wool objects are the spiders' egg sacs.
cotton wool-like sacs can contain up to 1,000 spiderlings - when they first come
out they're attracted to light, unlike the adults, as they need to find new areas
picture and upland photograph courtesy of Isle of Man Tourist Board.