Young Nature Blogger 2021 winners have received their prizes – and seen their work in print.
The nature writing challenge is a collaboration between UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man, Manx Wildlife Trust and Isle of Man Newspapers.
Writers aged 21 and under were challenged to write up to 500 words about nature and wildlife.
The content was judged by Geoffrey Boot MHK, then Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture; Richard Butt; Editor of Isle of Man Newspapers; Dr Richard Selman, Head of Ecosystem Policy at DEFA and Leigh Morris, CEO of Manx Wildlife Trust.
Five winners were chosen, Jemima Caine, Ffinlo Thomas, Obie Wade, Izzy Greaves and Evie Jane Hickey.
They visited Manx Wildlife Trust’s headquarters in Peel to receive their prizes, MWT goodie bags.
And their winning blogs appeared in the Isle of Man Examiner.
Overall winner Jemima also received a beautiful trophy hand-crafted from local wood.
Her blog has gone forward, with those from Kerry and Dublin Bay Biospheres, for the first inter-Biosphere Young Nature Blogger prize, to be judged by award-winning young nature writer Dara McAnulty and Professor Martin Price, Chair of the UK Man and the Biosphere Committee.
Title: I Went for a Walk
Author: Jemima Caine
I had a foggy mind that I needed to clear, something I needed to get off my chest. So I trusted the beautiful Manx Biosphere to help me out.
I went for a walk; just up and down my road, and the things I experienced were incredible. I just looked and listened, simple as that. First I saw a fly, and followed it with my eyes. It circled my head as if to say hello, and then it had to go.
I was disheartened for a second but, very soon, something else sparked my interest. I heard a kind of whirring, coming from the grass. I wasn’t sure what it was, so I had a look around. Although, unfortunately I didn’t find the mystery insect, it still made me happy.
I inhaled to calm myself even more, and smelt the fresh crisp smell of a summer evening in the countryside, (and, no, I’m not talking about the lovely pong of manure).
I looked up into the cloudless, azure, summer sky and a sudden smile grew on my face. It made me want to skip, sing, and twirl around whilst flailing my arms and absorbing the atmosphere.
A certain vermillion bug then appeared in my eye-line. It didn’t make a particular identifiable sound; like a humming or a buzzing. Despite this I could still hear the vibrations coming from its flapping wings. It landed on a blade of glass and stayed completely still. I inspected it – from a respectable distance – and I gave it the nickname of the ‘good luck bug’. I don’t have the slightest idea why, but I did. It made me content.
I looked over a slightly wrecked gate to see a phenomenal horizon. This sight made my day and, as with most of the spectacular sights I encounter on the Isle of Man, I took a picture. My mind was now cleared, the thing had been lifted from my chest, and I was ready to go home.
I ducked under my fuchsia bush and watched the bees collect the nectar from the gorgeous magenta and indigo flowers. I strolled down my path, took a deep breath, opened the front door and went inside.
As I slumped down on my bed, I looked up at my ceiling and took the time to be grateful for the amazing Island we have, and an even more impressive UNESCO Biosphere
Title: Port Jack Beach
Author: Ffinlo Thomas
I have chosen to write about Port Jack beach because it is small, isolated and just amazing, especially for kids.
The real reason I chose Port Jack beach is because it is really fun; you can jump off some really high rocks; you can go hunting for fish, and another great thing is there is sea glass. There’s loads and, as a collector of it, I find it brilliant.
Another reason I find it fun is because there is a sewage pipe. It may sound disgusting, but when the tide is out you can walk on it and go right out and jump off some rocks, so that’s a bonus.
If you go along, on your right there is a deserted rocky bit, so if you ever get bored of swimming, or tired, just go and climb rocks or have a seat at this beautiful, off-track, bit of rock.
Another aspect I forgot was the rock pooling. There are some small, medium or massive rock pools. I have a clear memory of a massive shrimp in a particular rock pool, and loads of fish.
Although I have told you loads of good stuff, there is bad stuff at this beautiful beach. The jumping rocks are fairly sharp and you can get cuts easily and, even worse, there is a wall at the beach and some naughty (or drunk) people have put some despicable words there.
But back on the bright side: there are some great skimming stones and you can have lots of fun, and can get addictive. My record is eleven jumps and I love the way they hit the water. It’s awesome.
Some other great stuff is that if you have a paddleboard, or kayak, you can go to either Happy Valley beach or Douglas beach.
Some good features at Happy Valley are rock-jumping and fire-making. Other features at Douglas beach are camping, fishing and sea watching.
Sometimes if you go down to the beach at night you can get a Port Jack Chippy tea and go down to the beach to eat it, while watching out for dolphins or fish.
Speaking of sea watching, Port Jack beach is a key place for seals as it’s rocky.
If you go out and climb a big rock you can see the Lake District in England and some of the beaches on a very clear day. But if you stay there until the dead of night, you can see the colour of a power plant called Sellafield Power Plant.
My final fact is that there are some natural caves that you can swim into, but I wouldn’t recommend it because you might drown.
Title: My Wildlife in the Isle of Man
Author: Evie Jane Hickey
Apart from my family, the people that inspired me most to start caring so much about the environment are Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough and Dara McAnulty, who inspired me to be myself while writing.
I love nature. In lockdown we walked along the harbour past the Black Guillemots which were amazing to watch. Day after day, we would watch them building their nests in the holes in the harbour walls. The way they swim is so smart and hilarious.
I care about wildlife because, well, we are animals, aren't we? So how come we treat other animals, plants and species so horribly? They don’t do any harm to us unless we do harm to them (which we do quite often!).
When I go around Peel and see that there is plastic in the trees that I can't reach to put in the bin, it just makes me sad.
In the oceans, hundreds upon hundreds of creatures die from the plastic we put in the ocean. In some places, they dump all of their plastic in big trucks which eventually is dumped in the sea. Some people only think of themselves and not what affects other lives.
In our school, some of the other children and I organised a litter pick down at Fenella beach. Our whole class got involved so all 14 of us went down to the beach and did our litter pick. We finished early so then we went over to Peel beach and cleaned some of the beach there. Sometimes me and my family do Beach Buddies, which is really fun and helps the environment.
It makes me upset that some people are willing to destroy the environment for their own enjoyment, so I decided to do something to help. I was given permission from the local Commissioners to use a small piece of land to transform into a small nature reserve.
I have started on the reserve by doing a litter pick with some of my friends and family. After we had finished the litter pick, we started cutting down the bracken because otherwise it would spread and eventually take over the whole piece of land.
I am planning to leave parts of it wild because some animals such as lizards like the overgrown space.
Every so often we will cut down the grass with a scythe and clear the grass trimmings so that wildflowers can thrive.
I’m going to plant some extra native flowers, dig a small pond and make a bug hotel. This will be good for lots of nature, especially bees and bugs.
We have recently seen lots of different plants such as foxglove, false oat grass, knapweed and different types of umbellifers.
Soon I hope that this small piece of land will be good for all animals and that lots more pieces of land will be like that.
Title: Pond Project
Author: Izzy Greaves
Hi. My name is Izzy and I am a home-schooler. One of the projects I have done is ‘The Pond Project’. I studied a pond in Mr Stewart Clague’s nature reserve. We measured the temperature, depth, weather and flora and fauna around the pond throughout the year, every week.
Like so many things in 2020, this project didn’t go quite to plan. Unfortunately, we only had six months of data recorded before the first lockdown began.
I was really worried that I was going to miss the most important time of the year for nature – summer - but actually we found lots of changes throughout the year.
I was amazed at how many different animals and birds we saw roaming around the pond. There were also some pretty drastic changes: after lockdown, we arrived to an empty pond, with no water at all.
In summer, as plants would grow, lots more creatures would come out to explore and, due to heat, the water in the pond evaporated.
I wanted to know if these ponds were man-made or natural, as lots of wildlife was there. So, I did some research and found out that all of the ponds were made and the trees were planted by Mr Clague, but he didn’t do anything to bring animals into the reserve.
This made me think of what we can do to encourage wildlife into our garden. First, we can make wildflower patches. These are great for bees and other pollen collecting insects, plus it’s really pretty.
Another thing you can do is add bird boxes. This encourages birds to nest and breed. Leaving things like leaves and old seed heads in autumn provides food and shelter for hedgehogs, mice, birds and invertebrates.
I was so excited to see all the growth of the plants and the arrival of insects and animals during the summer. We even saw a dragonfly hovering above our pond: vivid blue, shimmering, graceful and so beautiful.
I liked to take a walk around the pond to see more wildlife and one of my favourite places was the bird hide. I loved it, as I could be really close to the birds and watch their behaviour. One of these birds that I grew to love was a really friendly robin and I named it Red.
I wanted to share the main changes and the creatures we saw:
Buds starting to grow on trees; early flowers are sprouting.
Bees arriving and frogspawn appearing.
Animal babies are coming out; on many occasions the pond was dry.
Insects crawling everywhere, ducklings, dragonflies, butterflies and mayflies.
Leaves starting to fall; insects hiding; swallows migrated.
Magpies, swans and geese.
Ducks hiding; trees are bare.
The occasional pesky seagull.
It was so awesome to see the pond every week and to learn all the different plants and animals that live there at some point throughout the year.
Author: Obie Wade
My favourite animal in Isle of Man wildlife is a hedgehog because they eat beetles, caterpillars, worms, slugs and other invertebrates. And they have spikes.
They are in danger. Because people’s cars run over them making them in danger.
Their poo will have shiny beetle bits in. I saw some in my garden.
People make a cardboard box and put ink in there and some food and when a hedgehog went there it will leave footprints. They have to be big enough to hibernate (which is sleeping through winter when it’s cold).
People can help hedgehogs by leaving a shallow bowl of water and a bowl of cat food out. But not too many mealworms, as they are like sweets to hedgehogs.
At bonfire night, people need to check their bonfires first in case a hedgehog has climbed into it to go to sleep. When a predator goes to attack a hedgehog he will roll up in a spikey ball that will hurt the predator. And they are nocturnal. That means they are awake in the night.
Hedgehogs need humans help them survive.