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Calf of Man as Nature Reserve

Nature volume 139, page 362 (27 February 1937) | Download Citation



MR. F. J. DICKENS of Silverdale, Carnforth, Lancashire, is presenting the Calf of Man to the National Trust. This gift should prove a very valuable addition to the island bird sanctuaries of the British Isles. The Calf, with the rocks to the south of it and Chicken Rock Light, have provided invaluable facilities for bird migration study, and as it is proposed to have the property managed by a committee of ornithologists and Manxmen, there is a unique opportunity for erecting another ringing station or bird observatory of the Isle of Man and Heligoland type there. Covering some 616J acres, more than four hundred of which are healthy pasture, and including steep cliffs, a marsh, farm, ponds, a dam, and a glen, the Calf of Man as a bird reserve would preserve the nesting sites of some thirty species of bird including such birds as the chough which, declining in Cornwall and Devon, is increasing in the Isle of Man, the peregrine falcon, the shag, puffin, guillemot, razorbill, raven, kittiwake, rock-pipit, etc. There is a farm where a few house-sparrows, starlings, and blackbirds find a living, and wrens inhabit the caves. On migration, many warblers visit the Glen, etc., and forty-eight species of birds have been noted at the Chicken Rock Lighthouse (so named by sailors from the abundance of the storm-petrel or Mother Carey's chicken off that low rock). There may no doubt be need for some scientific control of the bird numbers, as in recent years the greater black-backed, lesser black-backed and herring gulls have increased their nesting areas, and these rapacious birds are often a danger to more interesting, but less vigorous, species. The flora has not been worked so thoroughly, but some three hundred or more plants occur, including the yellow-petalled ‘ochrocyanea’ variety of wild radish near the farm, wild hyacinth in a curious marshland habitat near the landing Sound, and sundew.

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