One of the many positive benefits of the relaxation of social distancing requirements announced earlier this week is that Manx National Heritage, in conjunction with partners Manx Wildlife Trust, is able to confirm the return of the seasonal wardens to the Calf of Man.
In response to Covid-19, it had been necessary for the wardens to be evacuated from the Calf on 26th March, just as their new season was beginning.
In conjunction with the return of the wardens, Aron Sapsford and Robert Fisher, the Calf is also now available to day visitors. Visits are governed by a combination of tides, weather and the general availability of boat operators who sail from Port Erin and Port St Mary, with day visits booked directly with the boat operators.
Pending essential work to the Observatory building, the Observatory is currently not open to overnight guests.
With vegetation still tinder dry after the prolonged dry spell, visitors are asked to strictly observe the normal prohibition of the use of barbecues and stoves.
Further information on planning a visit to the island nature reserve is available on www.manxnationalheritage.im.
The Calf is one of 19 bird observatories in Britain and Ireland and although there is no substitute for undertaking the normal hands-on routine work carried out by the Observatory, its temporary closure has enabled other valuable work to be undertaken. Led by Aron, the Calf Ornithological Warden, a team of dedicated volunteers has been transferring paper-based records of bird species into digital form. The records are of birds ringed on the Calf since the Observatory commenced work in 1959.
At the same time, work has also been undertaken to provide a full digital record of the locations of birds ringed on the Calf and subsequently recovered or re-trapped elsewhere in Europe and occasionally further afield and conversely, where birds captured on the Calf have originated.
With this large body of data now available in a much more accessible form, this will allow easier interrogation of the data and facilitate future research into changing trends in the migratory bird populations passing through the Calf of Man.