Welcome to Manx BirdLife

Kittiwakes - Maughold - June 2008. Photo: Pat Cullen

Welcome to Manx BirdLife’s website. Manx BirdLife is a charity based in Laxey in the Isle of Man. It works to conserve the Isle of Man’s wild birds and their habitats through advocacy and by raising public awareness of conservation issues.  We base our work on sound scientific research and actively seek partnerships to better achieve conservation goals.

To send us any observations of birds on the Isle of Man, please click on the ‘Your Sightings’ box on the right of this page.

To contact Manx BirdLife, click on CONTACTS at the top of the screen. Click on RECENT REPORTS for recent Manx bird observations. Please join the Manx BirdLife mailing list - just enter your Name and Email address in the boxes at the right of the page.

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Why has Dora decided to walk 39 miles in 10 hours ?

 By Dora Querido, Manx BirdLife Chief Operating Officer
One of my first training walks around my house.

One of my first training walks around my house.

Why has Dora decided to walk 39 miles (63km) in 10 hours with only 3 months to train?

 A) She needed a reason to get fit.
B) The charity she is running for needs funds.
C) She wanted to raise the charity’s profile.
D) She is mad.
E) All of the above and an inspirational video.

A) She needed a reason to get fit.

After two years of traveling every two months I found myself feeling like an old lady that can’t drag her trolley to the market without getting out of breath. I’m also not particularly good with keeping routines which makes exercising harder. Especially if we are talking about going for a run or doing exercise at home. It never lasts…

Nevertheless, I had a new job and a new home in a new country. The fresh start was calling for a new exercise routine but

Even without the sun out, I enjoy the hills and the country side walks.

The Isle of Man landscape is gorgeous! I enjoy spending time outside even when the rain is coming…

between the immediate gains of an extra hour’s sleep against the long term health benefits of exercise, sleeping has always prevailed! I needed something extra…

B) The charity she is running for needs funds.

As the new Chief Operating Officer for Manx BirdLife, it is my responsibility to predict and forecast the charity’s expenses and income, and I realized that we would close the 2014/15 financial year at a loss. The charity has a history of not being sustainable which I’m determined to change.

C) She wanted to raise the charity’s profile.

I realised shortly after I started my new job that when I introduced myself and mentioned “Manx BirdLife” people didn’t know anything about the charity and worse, assumed I was talking about another charity with a similar name. Our mailing list had about 300 people; we had 150 Facebook friends and 326 Twitter followers. I personally have more contacts than the charity itself! We need to change this.

Best time so far

GPS track of my fastest training so far.

D) She is mad.

I’m highly goal oriented and like a good challenge: if it easily done it is not fun!

All I required was a challenging sports event with a deadline to train and the goal of raising funds and awareness. The Parish walk, 88 miles around the island in 24 hours, was two weeks after I started, which would not have allowed me enough time to train or fundraise. The end to end walk was three months away. Plus, the start and end points of the race are amazing places for birds. I made up my own training plan initially from my sports-science ignorant brain to build up my walking endurance. The method was to increase my weekend walks by 3 miles (5 km) each time which would lead to have walked 37 miles (60 km) two weeks before the race. It was perfect!

 E) All of the above and an inspirational video.

At some point during my first  two months at Manx BirdLife I came across this TED talk from Lewis Pugh, who swam a kilometre at the north pole wearing SPEEDOS!!! This amazing feat really motivated me – ‘If he can dare to lose his fingers to raise awareness for ocean conservation, I sure can walk a few miles for Manx BirdLife!’

GPS track of my attempt to do 21 miles going through Dalby.

GPS track of my attempt to do 21 miles going through Dalby.

 The Problem: Things never go according to plan.

I was doing my own training plan and going for increasingly longer walks at weekends. I knew every muscle in my legs was going to ache but what I was not expecting was permanent pain on my hip joints. Normally, pain indicates a problem but I was like a dog with a bone and didn’t listen to my body warnings! Eventually, during an attempt to do 21 miles (35 km) alone, going uphill after passing Dalby, on a windy and fogy off-road track I almost burst into tears: £2.000 for Manx BirdLife was not worth that amount of pain!

I rested for ten days, evaluated my training, spoke with a few people and found some specific stretches for the hips and lower back. I understand I will have to trust that on the day my hips will put up with the speed of 4 miles an hour (6.5km/h) for 10 hours but I can’t make it every weekend! They say that walking more than 20 miles is a mind game, not a fitness one: Either way, it’s on!

It beats me how I convinced Sophie to join me but we will find out soon as she will be writing about it. Watch this space.

Wanna Sponsor us? Visit our online campaign here or send your contributions to our Office: 35 New Road, Laxey, Isle of Man, IM4 7BG

Day: 21st of September 2014
Time: 8 am
Place: Isle of Man – starting at the point of Ayre (a place very dear to Manx BirdLife as we are hoping to have a nature reserve there) and ending at the Sound.
 
Many thanks to James Walker for his help in editing this blog for me
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Week ending 24th August 2014 – birds seen on the Isle of Man

For full details of the sightings during week ending 24th August, click here.

They can also be seen by clicking on ‘RECENT REPORTS’ at the top of the screen, go down to ‘August’, then clicking on ‘24th‘.

The total number of species reported in 2014 by the end of this week remains at 161, as no new species were reported this week. See here for the full list of what has been reported. If you see a species that has not yet been reported this year, please do tell us about it using the usual form.

Many thanks for the all the observations and photos sent in. Please continue to send in your observations and photographs using this form.

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Manx bird sightings for week ending 17th August

For full details of the sightings during week ending 17th August, please click here.

They can also be seen by clicking on ‘RECENT REPORTS’ at the top of the screen, go down to ‘August’, then clicking on ‘17th’’.

The total number of species reported in 2014 by the end of this week remains at 161, as no new species were reported this week. See here for the full list of what has been reported. If you see a species that has not yet been reported this year, please do tell us about it using the usual form.

Many thanks for the all the observations and photos sent in. Please continue to send in your observations and photographs using this form.

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Farewell Trip to the Calf of Man

Posted on July 11th, 2014 by James Walker, Manx BirdLife Media and Communications Volunteer
Dora, Sophie and James on the boat to the Calf of Man

Dora, Sophie and James on the boat to the Calf of Man

As last Friday was myself and Sophie’s last day working as Breeding Bird Surveyors with Manx BirdLife, and with all the associated field and office work completed just in time after it began in April, Dora, our manager and Chief Operating Officer of the charity, decided to treat us to an ‘away day’. This came in the shape of a visit to the Calf of Man, the 616 acre island nature reserve located just off the South-west coast, where none of us had ever ventured before.  The Calf of Man holds significant importance for the Isle of Man’s bird populations, with 33 breeding species and some of the best nesting habitat for seabirds.  A boat was booked and we were ready to go. Meeting at lunchtime on Friday in the picturesque harbour a Port St Mary, it seemed as though the weather was set to dampen the occasion. Thankfully this proved not to be the case as conditions rapidly improved over the slightly bumpy journey on the boat. After landing on the Calf we were welcomed by the warden and given a map of the island so we could plan a walk for the afternoon.Our chosen route took us to the Lighthouses, past the bird observatory, although unfortunately there was no ringing on the day due to the earlier rainfall, along the sound, before getting back to the harbour ahead of the return journey.

 

Kittiwake adults and chick at breeding colony in the Calf of Man

Kittiwake adults and chick at breeding colony on the Calf of Man By James Walker

We saw a rich variety of wildlife on the visit. Several Grey Seals, inquisitive as always, were seen swimming by the boat and a large group of them looked very relaxed in the calmer areas of water in the sound.It was amazing to see, albeit briefly, a Harbour Porpoise mother and calf who surfaced several times relatively close to the shore. In terms of birds, juvenile Wheatears, Peregrine, Chough and a Ring-tailed Hen Harrier were the highlights on the island. The spectacular coastal cliffs passed on both boat journeys provided a wealth of seabird sightings, with Kittiwake, the most graceful of Gulls, Guillemot and Fulmar being some of the most prolific. The best sighting was of young Guillemots and Kittiwakes with their respective parent birds, an unusual sight for all three of us and a fitting way to round off a great afternoon. Many thanks to Ann Kaye who organised the boat trip and to the staff on the Calf of Man for their hospitality.

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A Season in the Field for Manx BirdLife

Posted on July 24th, 2014 by James Walker, Manx BirdLife Breeding birds surveyor
Adult Male Wheatear seen whilst on migration

Adult Male Wheatear seen whilst on migration

As I write this the fieldwork for the year has now finished, and I can reflect on a challenging, exhausting but ultimately enjoyable and productive season on the Isle of Man. My body is currently grateful for a break from numerous unsociably early starts, as well as the health benefits of a decrease in my coffee and biscuit intake. Having never been to the island before I started work at the end of March, it has been a steep learning curve, and I certainly feel to have improved skills in office work, bird surveying and navigation. There have been some memorable incidents along the way, one that stands out was being stampeded by a herd of angry cows, an unexpected practical test of my sprinting and fence vaulting skills which I am grateful to say I passed – just!

The remit at the start of the contract was for me and my colleague Sophie to survey ten percent of the island, with two visits to each randomly selected kilometre square, the first in April//May and the second in June/July. Each square takes around two hours to survey, with the routes designed to take in the most productive habitat and to cover the area as thoroughly as is realistically possible.

Pair of Chough along coastal cliffs

Pair of Chough along coastal cliffs

In order to be allowed access onto large tracts of private land to cover the areas we were allocated to survey, it was necessary to liaise with a number of landowners who Manx BirdLife are very grateful to for their help with the work each year.

In addition to the main body of survey work, we were also tasked with covering large areas of coastline to complete censuses for Chough, organised by the Manx Chough Project, and Sand Martin. The Chough census was a follow up to the last census done in 2002, to build a picture of how numbers and distribution have changed in the years since then. The basic methodology was to watch over suitable areas of coastal cliffs from a safe vantage point and note down the different activities of a pair, which over the two visits will indicate the likelihood of nesting taking place. The Sand Martin census was much simpler, requiring only one visit with a quick recording process of counting active nest holes. All in all it made for a huge body of fieldwork to be completed within set deadlines, of which all were made but most finished ahead of schedule.This has been in some part down to the weather, and although I wouldn’t describe the spring and summer as a ‘scorcher’, it has been a pretty good season for nesting birds, due to a lack of excessive periods of rain.

I am thinking of starting a side line in weather forecasting having learnt to balance the often contrasting views of various websites, and on occasion left either soaked, completely disorientated due to thick fog or a combination of both trying to make the best of a survey whilst cursing their inaccuracy!

 

Flock of Oystercatchers seen whilst on Sand Martin survey

Flock of Oystercatchers seen whilst on Sand Martin survey

The data work which we are in the process of completing is a new experience, having its own high points and frustrations; fighting with Microsoft Excel is now a big part of my life and trying out new types of herbal tea is about as exciting as it gets! Our two line managers, for the first two months Chris Sharpe and now Dora Querido, the new Chief Operating Officer, have both been excellent at passing on their wealth of expertise in various aspects of the work and I feel much better prepared for the future thanks to their help. I would like to thank Manx BirdLife and Allen Moore from the Manx Chough Project for the opportunity to gain such a diverse amount of experience within four months.

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