Tuesday, 7 May 2013


A blowsy, blustery day with the sort of brisk northwest wind that billows round you and leaps out at you from gaps in the gorse to leave you breathlessly exhilarated. We walked along Maughold Head to have a look for Puffins, but no sign of any today - just Fulmars whirling along the cliff edge in effortless loops, Tysties trilling on the water below and a big bull Grey Seal porpoising through the chop towards Ramsey.

We followed the coast path to the Cormorant colony, where paired and single birds sat darkly ungainly on the bright green turf. They look rather uninterestingly black from a distance in the cloud-shadow, though white patches at thigh and chin catch the eye, but creep closer to them and as soon as the sun strikes through you are faced with a surprisingly attractive bird.
Despite their antics, with the sun in, Cormorants are - well, frankly, a little dull-looking...

The black feathers prove glossy with hints of purple and green as the light catches them from different angles, white feathers grizzle the black on the back of their heads and their wings are a coppery bronze, each feather edged neatly with black. Closer still you can appreciate the ice-cold jade eyes, which regard you with wariness, a mild concern at your approach.
...but with the sun on them it's a different story.

Lie down in the bracken debris and watch, and their stretched necks relax back into a curve, the tufty crest on their nape settles down a little and they return to the important business of preening, pair-bonding and rearranging any nest material which has been brought in. No eggs yet this year - late, but not surprising in view of the cold late spring - but birds were flying in now and then, trailing vegetation in their bills, so the breeding season's getting well under way at last.

We strolled back to the car with the wind at our backs, pushing past the clumps of coconut-scented gorse, with Choughs bouncing through the air above us, filling the sky with wheezy 'ciao's. It's nice to be back on the Isle of Man!

Moss rolls down ivy stems and across the drystone walls on Maughold Head.

North Barrule from Maughold Head

Looking south along the east coast of the Isle of Man.

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