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Saturday Stroll with Neil Morris

What is your favourite Saturday Stroll? This week, we explore the south coast with Neil Morris, Managing Director of Manx BirdLife.

Where is the walk?

My favourite Sunday stroll typically has to accommodate my wife and our dog. It’s rarely an all-out solo bird-watching fest – sea, sand and ideally sunshine are what’s required rather than a guarantee of any rare birds!

On a low tide, we’ll start at Gansey Pottery and head east; though if we’re feeling energetic, we’ll start from Port St Mary’s Chapel Bay.

Both Chapel Bay and Baie ny Carrickey offer broad stretches of sand into which our little black ‘Patterpoo’ loves to dig. She’s strangely averse to the noise of moving water and so won’t go in the sea. But she loves the quiet sand pools that offer calm shallows for her to splash about in while the tide is out.

Tilly the Patterpoo

At the east end of Baie ny Carrickey we have to avoid the temptation of hauling up into the Shore Inn for a ‘swiftie’ and a warm up (and often, to dry out!).

It’s then onto the shingle to explore the coastline round to Kentraugh Black Rocks.

Despite my protestations that this is not a ‘birding route’, I have found a number of interesting birds on this stretch of the walk. Last winter I added a European Water Pipit to the tally. Closely related to our own familiar Rock Pipit, this species nests in the high meadows of the Alps and Pyrenees. It is a rare winter vagrant to the Isle of Man.

Winter-plumaged Water Pipit from the Continent

We never quite make it as far along as Scarlett. But the views across Strandhall to Pooilvaaish on the western side of the headland are amongst our favourites.

On turning around to head back, it’s a great deal harder to shun the hospitality of the Shore Inn a second time in one day!

Start point: Chapel Bay, Port St Mary, or Gansey Pottery, Baie ny Carrickey

Finish point: Strandhall Beach

Approximate duration: An hour and a half (excluding time sitting in front of a log fire having a ‘swiftie’).

Level of difficulty: Easy for families, though some clambering over rocks can be required if the tide is up.

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