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Manx Birds

Celebrating Manx Birds at Inaugural Conference

There's a special treat for ornithologists over the weekend, with a joint presentation organised by members of both the Manx Ornithological Society and the local charity Manx Bird Life.

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This inaugural conference, which celebrated the Island's population of wild birds, was introduced by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Richard Gozney, before a number of experts then discussed a range of subjects at the Manx Museum lecture theatre.

The afternoon of free talks was chaired by Dr Richard Selman of the Manx Ornithological Society, and sponsored jointly by Stewart Clague Services and the Isle of Man Society for the Preservation of the Manx Countryside and Environment.

Frank (281)

A number of experts were brought together from the Manx Museum, DEFA, Manx Wildlife Trust, the Manx Chough Project, University of Oxford, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology, delivering a rewarding afternoon for everyone, whatever their knowledge on the subject.

Selected speakers focused their attention upon a small number of birds with specific links to the Isle of Man, including the celebrated Manx shearwater; together with other established species such as the hen harrier, curlew and the chough.

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The uniquely named Manx shearwater has recently made a welcome return to the Calf of Man, increasing in number since the implementation of a rigorous vermin extermination programme. Spectacular fliers and excellent swimmers, they are poor travellers on the ground, only landing under cover of darkness to breed.

Meanwhile the majestic hen harrier lives under threat in certain areas of the UK, but can be readily seen in certain parts of the Island in search of small prey.

Golden Plover

The curlew is Europe's largest wading bird, instantly recognised by its long, down-curved bill, brown upperparts, long legs and evocative call. And although a member of the crow family, the chough is easily differentiated by its red bill and legs.

The conference offered a unique opportunity to understand more fully the daily challenges faced by some of the Island's most iconic, wild birds, but also learn more about some of the latest discoveries in this field.

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Organisers also arranged an evening, celebration buffet in conjunction with the conference, held at the Ballacregga Corn Mill, situated just below Laxey Wheel, where there was the chance to meet the conference speakers and exchange views with like-minded people.

Further details about Manx BirdLife can be obtained from www.ManxBirdLife.im and the Manx Ornithological Society from jthompson@manx.net.

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(Photos courtesy of: Frank Wildman, Pete Hadfield & Neil G. Morris)

Valerie Caine
© November 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

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