Lichen and mosses

The whole point of this blog is to try and report on my interactions with, observations of and comments on all things nature related. The seven Isle of Man 100 Mile hike blogs were more of a daily diary of activities and specific observations and comments on the rich and varied wildlife that the island has to offer are a bit thin in the ground.

This blog will hopefully put that right and its sole aim is to list the myriad species of plant, insect, mammal and fungi that we encountered on our lap of the island. It is worth pointing out that whilst we did try and keep our eyes out for items of interest, keeping an eye on the frequently treacherous path was uppermost in our thoughts and we had to rely on what was literally right in front of us was observed during a stop.

Whilst walking around the island, most of the habitat was, expectedly, influenced by its proximity to the sea and will have had to cope with regular gales and inundation with salt spray – to survive in this environment. you have to be hardy. I’ve not calculated the following with any degree of accuracy but our path was split roughly into quarters consisting of rocky cliffs with heather and gorse, grassland and pasture, beaches (sand and pebble), wooded glades/valleys and coves; each habitat had its own very distinct feel and identity and all appeared to be in very good condition and free from litter of any kind. In our eight days on the island we had all at some point remarked on just how clean it was – if only it was the same back home where littering is problem that seems to be getting worse.

To follow are some photos of those four main habitats we encountered around the island.

I’ll break the observed species down into the following groups; plants, fungi, insects/molluscs, birds, mammals and fish and in each section I’ll provide a list of species with a positive ID; there are more photos of plants and fungi than anything else and that in the mains is because they don’t move 🙂


Common NameScientific NameNotes / Comments
Hardy FuschiaFuchsia magellanicaKnow in Manx as
Jeiryn Yee which translates as ‘Gods tears’ and makes an appearance in day 3’s Guest Blog
Bell HeatherErica cinereaMost cliffs and higher paths
GorseUlex galliiBloody everywhere and almost impenetrable in places. member of the pea family.
Ground ElderAegopodium podagrariaMainly on Embankments and alongside roads
Common SpleenwortAsplenium trichomanesFernlike plant and one was growing on bodywork of a car!
NavelwortUmbilicus rupestrisFleshy plant with round / navel like leaves.
Madame’s Cup LichenCladonia cocciferaTiny cups but a stunning little plant high up on the heather covered rocks atop the cliffs.
Wild AngelicaAngelica sylvestrisPurple-stemmed and grows up to 2.5m. Not the one candied by chefs.
Bush VetchVicia sepiumOnly seen in couple of locations – member of the pea family
Common Orange LichenXanthoria parietinaAnother lovely lichen with yellowy/orange appearance – trees and rocks and I prefer the alternative name of ‘Maritime Sunburst Lichen’ which probably better explains where it’s found and what it looks like.
Oak Moss / Tree Moss LichenEvernia prunastri A lovely bushy’ lichen that gives the impression of a ‘Spanish Moss’ that you see hanging from trees in the swamps of Southern USA
Angels TrumpetsBrugmansia sanguineaCastletown Castle – Clearly an introduced species and a large specimen was still in flower next to Castletown Castle / harbour.
Oarweed KelpLaminaria digitataMainly saw root-balls (looked like prickly testicles!) strewn across the beaches – Many other seaweeds observed and a good link to others can be found here Manx Seaweeds
Plants observed with a positive IDImages below.


Common NameScientific NameNotes / Comments
Vermillion WaxcapHygrocybe miniataTiny bright red fruiting bodies that you’d almost never see – just one caught my eye and then when you look there were loads of them. These were in very boggy ground in amongst the heather.
Blackening WaxcapHygrocybe conicaA few examples found around some utility grassland on the eastern side of the island on day two.
Dusky PuffballLycoperdon nigrescensJust the one example and not the greatest photo (a bit blurred). Looks not unlike a defensive puffer-fish with its colour and it was covered in small spines.
Yellow FieldcapBolbitius titubansLovely yellow coloured mushroom that was quite plentiful along the railway embankment we walked along at the beginning of day three.
Velvet Foot / Winter MushroomFlammulina velutipes sl, incl. elastica, fennaeThese look like they could and should be eaten but as we didn’t have the official mushroom taster with us (EPD) we just left them where they were.
Fungi observed with a positive IDImages below.

Insects and Molluscs

Common NameScientific NameNotes / Comments
Brown-Lipped SnailCepaea nemoralisMany individuals seen over the course of the week.
Fox MothMacrothylacia rubiSeveral individuals seen crossing paths in the sunshine.
Ruby Tiger MothPhragmatobia fuliginosaSimilar to Fox month with several seen crossing our path in the final couple of days.
Dor (Dung) Beetle Geotrupes stercorosusJust one of the three to four hundred thousand (that’s right, 3-400k!) beetle species on our planet – All lists have to start somewhere 😉
Red AdmiralVanessa atalantaAs soon as the sun came out, so did the Red Admirals – Amazing to think that these delicate, lightweight insects don’t overwinter in the UK and they re-populate the UK via migration from continental Europe…
Insects and Molluscs observed with a positive IDImages below.
  • Not taken on this trip.


Common NameSpecies NameNotes / Comments
Hen HarrierCircus cyaneusMale bird very close in the mist / fog on day 3
Northern GannetMorus bassanusObserved on day 2 from the cliffs
Common KestrelFalco tinnunculusSeveral birds, male and female observed over week.
Northern WheatearOenanthe oenanthe2 birds seen on day 1 – stopping on their way to sub-saharan Africa
Hooded CrowCorvus cornixDaily views of multiple birds.
Carrion CrowCorvus coroneMany birds observed usually mixed with Hooded cousins
Eurasian JackdawCorvus monedulamany flocks of birds seen – largest flock was +250 birds.
Eurasian HobbyFalco subbuteoChasing a Meadow Pipit – And gives its name to the table football game 🙂 – Another bird on route to Africa.
Common EiderSomateria mollissimaA few birds seen on day 1 and day 2 in the coves – none seen on the East coast.
European ShagGulosus aristotelisTwo birds seen from the cliffs on day 2 – one diving with the semi-diagnostic ‘jump’
CormorantPhalacrocorax carboSeveral seen most days either on the water or on rocks / the beach drying their feathers in the customary ‘wings out’ pose.
Meadow PipitAnthus pratensisMainly on the grassland / pasture sections and trying not to get eaten by the Hobby’s
Pied / White WagtailMotacilla albaFamiliar to most with their ‘chizzick’ call made in flight.
Grey WagtailMotacilla cinereaAlways a joy to see and several seen in the river valleys alongside water.
RavenCorvus coraxThe largest of them all – wonderful close views which allow you to appreciate their size – huge birds and don’t they know it – not bothered by anything and happily mobbing buzzards!
StonechatSaxicola rubicolaOn the first few days I estimate we saw in excess of 100 individual birds – a mix of males, females and juveniles. Wonderful call that gives them their name and which is described in more detail in the day three guest blog.
Great TitParus majorNot quite at their loveliest at this time of year but still a lovely bird to see – needs shrubs and trees and only seen in areas where we were close to human habitation or previous works such as railway embankments etc.
RobinErithacus rubeculaSeemed to pop up almost anywhere on the island – an adaptable bird.
LinnetLinaria cannabinaSeveral flocks of up to 50 birds seen on most days, usually in more remote areas.
PheasantPhasianus colchicusTwo males seen on day 3 in a farmyard area.
GoldfinchCarduelis carduelisHeard ‘chiming’ and ‘tinkling’ on most days in small flocks as they flitted between shrubs and trees.
DunnockPrunella modularisA very underrated bird which is often overlooked as a little brown job. Lovely intricate patterns on its feathers and has quite the sex life…look it up!
BlackbirdTurdus merulaWe’re all familiar with the Blackbird but in Autumn and Winter the UK sees many thousands of birds migrate to use from Scandinavia – were these locals or migrants?
BuzzardButeo buteoHalf a dozen seen on the trip with three in one group (being mobbed by the Ravens). Haunting call in the fog on day 2 was particularly memorable.
ChaffinchFringilla coelebsSeen in mixed flocks with Goldfinch and Tits in tree-lined areas.
WrenTroglodytes troglodytesKept popping up all around the island and certainly packs a musical punch far bigger than its size.
Long Tailed TitAegithalos caudatusLovely noisy flocks of up to twenty five birds working their way through wooded areas where sufficient tree-cover and shrubs available.
Barn SwallowHirundo rusticaA mixed group of Swallows and House Martins seen around the Calf of Man – Waiting for the right time to head south and whilst it was still mild, they must have been in two minds.
House MartinDelichon urbicumAs above with Swallows.
ChoughPyrrhocorax pyrrhocoraxThe highlight of the trip for me and a bird I’d never seen before. One noisy and aerobatic group of seven birds on day three as we walked along the beach was the cherry on the cake. Lovely birds and until you’ve seen them up close, you don’t realise just how red that bill and legs really are.
Great Black-backed GullLarus marinusThe largest Gull in the world and a magnificent creature. Not the only ‘largest’ bird of its kind on this list with the Raven being the largest passerine (Perching bird). Not a common bid but seen daily as they patrolled the beaches and close inshore.
Rock PipitAnthus petrosusA classic bird of Northern rocky coasts and we had three individuals along the west coast in typical habitat.
SkylarkAlauda arvensisNot as many as I’d expected to see but always nice to see them.
Grey HeronArdea cinereaSeen on the coastal edges an on pools along rivers as they reached the sea. Specialists at standing still and staring.
Little EgretEgretta garzettaMuch like the Grey Heron but significantly smaller an snow white apart from its comic yellow feet.
WoodpigeonColumba palumbusThe ubiquitous ‘pigeon’ and no matter where we were on the island, we’d always see them flying over, inland, and at the coast.
Feral PigeonColumba liviaMainly in the towns but several groups in territory more akin to the Rock Dove which is a bird of cliffs but of which almost no wild populations exist. Our buildings have become their cliffs.
Mute SwanCygnus olorMost harbours around the island had Mute Swans in them with the greatest number, eight, at Castletown Harbour
Herring GullLarus argentatusSeen everywhere and much maligned – beautiful birds and such graceful fliers.
Black-headed GullChroicocephalus ridibundusSuffered terribly over the last couple of years due to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) so always nice to see them – a good mix of adult and juvenile birds. Lovely dainty fliers and in great light conditions they are a joy to watch.
Mediterranean GullIchthyaetus melanocephalusTwo birds very imilar in size to the Black -headed gull but one of the birds whose range is moving inexorably north as our climate changes – you’ll not be surprised to know that they’re mainly seen in warmer climes.
Common SandpiperActitis hypoleucosJust the one bird that we flushed whilst walking through one of the river valleys and you tend to ID initial on its three note alarm call before you ID it with your eyes.
RookCorvus frugilegusInky black birds with Coot like ‘bald’ bills and forehead. Large flocks and reminded me of the saying ‘a Crow in a crowd is a Rook, a Rook on its own is a Crow’.
House SparrowPasser domesticusFar fewer of these birds than there were 20 years ago but they certainly earn their collective noun which is a ‘Quarrel’. Always noisy.
Red GrouseLagopus lagopusTwo birds seen on the tops on day three – again one of those that you hear when flushed as it’s wingbeats give it away and then your eyes catch up for a positive ID.
SanderlingCalidris albaSeveral flocks seen on day three as we walked along the beach – they give the impression of a clockwork toy as they follow the waves in and out; easily spooked and they move like wisps of smoke up and down the beach, almost never settling.
TreecreeperCerthia familiarisJust the one bird see in a wooded glade on day three – they type of bird to need to stop still and watch to be able to see and we didn’t really stop moving for five days.
Common GullLarus canusMuch like a more easily viewable version of the Kittiwake and equally as handsome a bird – they have kind faces unlike may other gulls that tend to have a more aggressive look.
LapwingVanellus vanellusMy favourite bird from being a young boy – their Peewit calls, tumbling flight and iridescent plumage all add to its charm – what’s not to like. Only a handful seen but any day with a lapwing in it is a good day.
KittiwakeRissa tridactylaA truly pelagic bird and the only ones seen were those following the Manxman ferry on our return journey – in excess of 150 birds seen following and their mastery of the wind is almost unrivalled.
Golden PloverPluvialis apricariaSmall flock seen on day three with the rest of the waders. Not quite as striking in non-breeding plumage but still a lovely looking bird sporting its ‘spangled’ golden plumage.
Grey PloverPluvialis squatarolaAnabsolute ‘stonker’ of a bird in breeding plumage but doesn’t pack quite the punch in its non-breeding garb. It does however retain its black-armpits which are its diagnostic feature.
KnotCalidris canutusAnother bird whose non-breeding plumage is a far cry from its brick red breeding plumage; grey all over but beatufilly marked if you can get close enough to observe them.
CurlewNumenius arquataWe had many Curlew in the bay near our camp site and their calls in the night are hauntingly beautiful. All birds observed were on the coast and birds were seen on most days.
DunlinCalidris alpinaAnother bird that is difficult to separate from Sanderling, Knot and Grey Plover in winter but if you look closely enough its size and bill shape give it away. Just one small group on the beach on day three.
Canada GooseBranta canadensisA big. bold as brass goose and now probably the most common ‘resident’ goose. Mostly seen around harbours.
Brent Goose (Dark Bellied)Branta berniclaThree birds seen flying through on day three – lovely small geese and these were close enough to identify as ‘dark bellied’ variants (There are also pale bellied variants).
RedshankTringa totanus‘The sentinel of the marsh’ – Another wader with a far carrying and haunting call. Long legs that are more bright orange than red but easily identified by call or visually.
CootFulica atraOnly a couple of birds seen on an inland lake.
MoorhenGallinula chloropusOften see far from water which makes sense when you consider their name. Single birds seen half a dozen times across the island in areas where there were likely ponds or ditches in close proximity.
Ringed PloverCharadrius hiaticulaTwo small flocks moving south along the beach on day three with some of the birds still sporting the remains of their ‘bandit’ like masks and orange based bill.
Song ThrushTurdus philomelosJust the one bird seen on the last day as it flew across our path to give a fleeting view.
RedwingTurdus iliacusTwo birds seen on day four as they worked their way down a row of hawthorns alongside the footpath.
Blue TitCyanistes caeruleusBirds seen at various locations across the island in areas with trees and large shrubs.
MallardAnas platyrhynchosAll sightings were on the sea which is not my experience back on mainland UK where a Mallard on the sea is an unusual sight.
Birds observed with a positive ID – Some images below (not from this trip).

Mammals and Fish

Common NameSpecies NameNotes / Comments
Grey SealHalichoerus grypusViewed from a distance on day one and two with mothers and pups seen in several inaccessible coves. On days three and four as we walked along the beach we were almost always being watched from close quarters by inquisitive individuals.
Harbour PorpoisePhocoena phocoenaOnly the one specimen was seen and this was a dead animal washed onto the beach on day three – we became aware as many gulls were on carcass as we approached.
Small Spotted Catshark (Dog Fish)Scyliorhinus caniculaAgain the only specimens we saw were dead individuals that had been washed onto the beach – there were also some egg cases evident which are also known as ‘Mermaids purses’. All of those seen were a maximum of 60cm in length.
HedgehogErinaceus europaeusMuch in keeping with mammals seen above, the only example we saw was a dead animal seen on the beach on day four. The arrival of hedgehogs on the island was described in the guest blog of day three when a shipwreck carrying several was washed ashore and bred successfully’ Let’s hope the others are doing better.
Manx LoaghtanOvis ariesThe Manx Loaghtan is a small, primitive sheep, one of the rare breeds of sheep on the watch list of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. The breed originates from the prehistoric short-tailed breeds of sheep found in isolated parts of North West Europe where they survived because they were not replaced by more developed breeds. Other breeds in this same group are Soay, Hebridean, Shetland, Boreray and North Ronaldsay.
Ian NicksonTaurus Rubus MagnificusJust the one specimen seen which appeared to be a reincarnation of our good friend Ian – Picture supplied.
Birds observed with a positive ID – Some images below (not from this trip).

Considering we never really spent any time looking for any plats, birds or animals and only took photos of and recorded details of things that caught our eye over the eight days, the above lists represent just short of 100 species that were positively identified. The only groups that we can confidently say are complete lists are the birds fish and mammals and the plants, fungi and insects we have not even touched the surface (all the more reason to go back 🙂 )

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our exploits and for the final time, just a quick reminder that the whole purpose of the trip was to raise money for our chosen charities, SANDS and Streetlife . If you would like to make a donation, please follow this link to our JustGiving page which you can access by clicking here.

Thanks again for getting this far and you’ll be delighted to know that we’re already planning our 2024 trip! More to follow soon.

My Left Foot – IoM 100 Mile Hike – The Flora and Fauna

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