The Calf of Man

The Calf of Man
The Calf of Man

The Calf of Man is a rocky islet of 616 acres, half a mile off the south-west coast of the Isle of Man, in the middle of the Irish Sea.

Many of the birds found on the Isle of Man nest on the Calf of Man. The steep slate cliffs are particularly attractive to sea birds.

Parts of the Calf were formerly farmed and the old fields and heather-covered hills provide good opportunities for studying a wide variety of species. Many migrants are drawn to the trees and bushes around the Observatory building, while others can be found in the ‘withy’ by the millpond or around the old lighthouses (of which there are three).

The islet is administered by Manx National Heritage as a bird sanctuary and nature reserve, and managed on its behalf by Manx Wildlife Trust. Manx National Heritage has published a leaflet about the Calf of Man. More information is available on the Manx National Heritage website, which includes a link to a map of the Calf and a Guidebook that can be purchased.

Risso's Dolphin
Risso’s Dolphin
The Calf of Man Bird Observatory

Since 1959, organised ornithological work has been carried out on the Calf of Man under the supervision of appointed wardens. In 1962 it became an officially recognised Bird Observatory. The Observatory is located in the former farmhouse in the centre of the islet and is open from spring to autumn each year.

Manx National Heritage is responsible for publishing the annual Calf of Man Bird Observatory Report. This is free to access in the iMuseum Building in Douglas, Isle of Man, otherwise a subscription for access must be paid. Once you’ve made your selection, press return and that will take you to the subscription page.

Visiting the Calf of Man

The only way to reach the Calf of Man is by boat. No camping is allowed on the Calf. There is self-catering accommodation on the Calf of Man at the Observatory. Before booking, read the Calf of Man Visitor Information form. Bookings for visitor accommodation can now be made online. Other enquiries should be directed to Manx National Heritage on +44 (0) 1624 648000 or through enquiries@mnh.gov.im. Since there are no shops on the Calf of Man, visitors must bring all their own provisions. Visitors are also requested to take back any waste to the main island for appropriate disposal.

Grey Seal
Grey Seal

If you intend to visit the Calf of Man, please follow the Calf of Man code to protect this unique habitat. The Island is a sanctuary. There must be:

– No interference with the Calf’s wildlife
– No climbing equipment
– Dogs are not allowed
– No camping, lighting of fires, barbeques or use of naked flame stoves
– No litter
– No metal detecting
– No digging

Calf of Man – Pathe film clip from 1959

For a short film clip showing the first Warden of the Calf of Man Bird Observatory, Einar Brun and his wife Dido, see this entry in the British Pathe online library.


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