Calf Of Man, Isle Of Man UK

There is no calf on the Calf of Man. The name of this small island adjacent to the Isle of Man has nothing to do with cows. It is a mispronunciation of the Old Norse word kalfr, meaning a small island near a larger one. The Isle of Calf is only 250 hectares (618 acres) and is separated from its larger neighbour by a narrow stretch of water.

Four lighthouses were built on the island and nearby rocks to warn seafarers. Ships hate rocks but Grey Seals love them for resting upon or swimming amongst. While there are no calves, there are a few sheep of the Manx Loaghtan variety, descendants of primitive sheep once found throughout Scotland and nearby islands. Manx means ‘pertaining to the Isle of Man’. Once a private sheep run, the island was donated as a bird sanctuary and is now owned by the Manx National Heritage. Wardens live in the island’s old farmhouse over summer to protect the wildlife, research birds, tend the sheep and look out for introduced Brown Rats. The rats arrived after fleeing a sinking ship in 1871 and became effective killers of seabird chicks. Seabird numbers have surged following a recent rat eradication program. Manx Shearwaters breed from about March to August. They are named after their presence at the islands and seas surrounding the Isle of Man. The birds only visit their island nesting burrows at night and so are easier to spot from the deck of a ship. They glide ever so close to the surface of the sea as if they are ‘shearing’ the water. A sheer delight to watch.

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