Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Friday, 18 June 2010

Isle of Man The West Coast

Awoke very early - 4.00am and searched the area for birds but nothing too special found. Choughs were here, stonechat and whitethroat too and the views over towards Anglesey and Snowdonia were the clearest yet. The Mountains of Mourne, which had been so clear the previous evening wer very now very hazy.

The stone circle atop the hill near to the Sound was unusual in having 6 T-shaped cysts arranged in a circle instead of the usual.   Meayll Circle, Meayll Hill, or Mull Hill -Chambered Cairn.

Also up here were 2 pill boxes, still accessible but smelling of the usual urine and an air raid shelter.
Cycled down to look out for whether any boats were going to the Calf but no one was around the harbour and it stated that 4 people were required for a trip to go ahead. Cycled instead, well pushed for most of the way, up to the summit of Cronk ny Arrey Laa; from which I could see the 6 'Kingdoms' - England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. The sixth, the Kingdom of God.
Met Rachelle from Bury St Edmunds here and we talked for half an hour or so.  
Down the hill to a flat back tyre. 
Repaired and off again, soon reached the Isle of Man - Manx Wildlife Trust reserve - Dalby Mountain. Very hot now with full sun and little or no wind; I explored the area and photographed cotton grass, sundews and heath spotted orchids.
Into Peel after a short visit to a very small church and after doing rathlin on the blog, went into the castle. Got mobbed by a very irate herring gull. Wasn't sure why until I found a chick hidden in the corner of the ruined house I was standing in.
Next cycled to Close Sartfield adn spent the evening and night here. Fabulous place with thousands of mainly heath-spotted orchids, but also common-spotted, northern marsh and twayblades. Down by the hide was a huge amount of royal fern. 2 woodcock roding for about half an hour, brbbing and a cuckoo cuckooing entertained as another beautiful sunset set in. Slept on the bench to be found on the hide roof. A superb spot this as the hide has a viewing platform to look over the surrounding willow Curragh.
Thursday 17th June
Woke early and erad my book from my elevated position. Frightened a birder from Stevenage who hadn't expected anyone to be around so early and after breakfast of the usual a male hen harrier was seen. Then across the opening in front of the hide hopped out a wallaby! Then another - and another. I took some what will be appalling photographs. If any deserve the title 'record shot' these will.
Went along the broadwalk back towards the field that contained the most orchids and, as I came out of the bushes, the male hen harrier was seen fantastically close, no more that 10 metres away.  It spooked a little at the sight of me { and who wouldn't? } but continued quartering the field inperturbed.
Cycled to another Manx reserve, Cronk y Bing on the north west coast and was amazed that i was the only one on such a huge beach. Felt like Robinson Crusoe! [Come along now - do you remember the them tune to the series in the 1960's? Da da da da da daaaa. Da da da da da dada da!]
Little terns and gannets were  here and six-spot burnet moths on the marram grass, which hid a few pyramidal orchids.
Walked about a mile or so to the north to a delapidated hut on the cliff and then back to carry on to the next Manx reserve at Ayres. There met Keren, who with her husband maintains the Isle of Man Birding website  [  ]  She took me to see the diminuitive moonwort plant. A real stunner at 3 cms high but a real rarity too. We also looked for the scarce crimson and gold moth but to no avail. [Until later when I returned to the spot in the evening and found it, photographed and realised how we'd missed it in the afternoon - it's tiny!]
Also saw some dark green fritillary butterflies here and watched about 200 gannets feeding offshore using their spectactular diving technique.
Walked along the coast to the lighthouse at the Point of Ayre and camped about half a mile or so to the south on the east side of the isle now.
There - up to date at last!!!
Now to climb Snaefell and go to a pub in St John's for a live folk music evening. Maybe they'll have the match on too.
Tomorrow the ferry to Heysham where I'll be met by some RSPB volunteers who want to cycle with me to Leighton Moss. Hope they go slow. Will be paying our respects to Eric Morecambe at his statue in ... Morecambe so maybe see you there. About 1.30pm tomorrow. make a date.
All the best
PS. still on 206 for the year but now with 16 butterfly species seen.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Gary

    Great to meet and talk to you at Close Sartfield the other night. What a fantastic place eh? So glad the wallabies turned up for you. Good luck for the rest of your adventure.
    May the road rise to meet you
    May the wind be always at your back
    The sun shine warm upon your face
    The rains fall soft upon your fields
    And until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.