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Manx Bird life prepares to celebrate twelfth birthday
Mark Trevor Owen

Yellow Hammer
The once common Yellowhammer has all but disappeared from the island

Registered charity, Manx Birdlife is approaching its 12th birthday and says it is busier than ever.

Experts from the charity have been studying changes in the patterns of bird life and what they tell us about the world around us.

But how much can be learned from the activity of birds?

Chris Sharpe author of the Manx Bird Atlas says birds are a good indicator of changes in biodiversity and our environment.

He goes on to explain, "There are a relatively low number of species to deal with that can be recorded, in detail, across large areas of differing habitats and environmental conditions".

Socio-economic factors that continue to drive changes in farming methods are frequently linked to population declines in birds and the Isle of Man is no exception.

Feeding birds
Studying bird life gives a good indication of changes in biodiversity

A once-common species such as the Lapwing is now a relatively rare Manx breeding bird whilst the Yellowhammer has all but disappeared from the island.

"The challenge for Manx Birdlife is to help conserve and increase valuable wildlife habitat within a productive and healthy landscape.

"The only way this can be achieved is to continue working alongside government departments and the island's farming community, in the same way as we have since our inception in 1998," says Chris.

As well as compiling data for a new edition of the Atlas, Manx Birdlife is embarking on another ambitious scheme - a film.

Using the latest high-definition technology, and underwater filming, the film aims to depict a year in the life of three or four species native to the island.

After his initial work in producing the Manx Bird Atlas, Chris retains a clear vision for the future of the charity: "A rolling programme of research to enable us to update the atlas, provide a quantitative measure of changes in populations to Government and continue to encourage public interest in birdlife, biodiversity and conservation."

The Manx Birdlife experts can be called upon for a variety of purposes, from presenting talks in schools to offering consultation on the possible impact of building projects.

Chris Sharpe heads up a dedicated team of staff who carry out a range of surveying and statistical work.

Recent recruit is Manx-born ecologist Adam Denard, who was tempted back to his native land by the opportunity to conduct survey work in more detail than was offered by other locations.




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