The Ballaugh Curragh is the first Ramsar wetland of international importance designated on the Isle of Man. The site is also an Area of Special Scientific Interest.A scheme has been set up to help farmers and landowners to create wetlands and hay meadows around the Ramsar site to encourage bird life and protect the area from drying out.
The site qualifies for international status by having excellent examples of wetland habitats characteristic of the Island and the region: bog pools, marshy grassland, birch woodland, modified bog and willow scrub (known as curragh). It also has on occasions the largest numbers of winter roosting hen harriers in Western Europe and has breeding habitat for a highly endangered migratory bird, the corncrake.
Partners in this project include the Manx Wildlife Trust which has several reserves in the curragh area. One reserve, Close Sartfield is famous for its orchid walks in June when visitors can see thousands of flowers of spotted and butterfly orchids. There is also a bird hide on their reserve, from which hen harriers can be seen flying in to roost in the autumn. Another partner, the Curraghs Wildlife Park also plays an important role in enabling visitors to see the otherwise inaccessible vegetation and wildlife along their nature trail and from their tower look-out. A third partner is Manx National Heritage which owns and has improved access to the largest part of the wetland. There are, in addition. a number of private landowners and their permission should be sought if you wish to gain access to their land.
Photographs: Jon Wornham, Linda Moore, Alan Matthews, Hugh Loeidsson, Pete Hadfield, Rick Collins, map and aerial Crown copyright 2006.