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Ayres Wildlife showcased on BBC Radio 17 September 2008

The wildlife treasures of the Isle of Man were brought to a radio audience throughout Britain last week, when BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Living World’ broadcast a programme devoted to the Ayres.

A Scarce Crimson and Gold MothNot content with just one programme from the Isle of Man, the BBC team spent the best part of a week here in July, recording a series of four 25 minute programmes about the Island’s wildlife which were broadcast on four successive Sundays between 17th August and 7th September. In the first of these, wildlife enthusiast and past TT marshal, John ‘Dog’ Callister, and Duncan Bridges of the Manx Wildlife Trust took the programme makers on a tour of the natural history of the TT course. The second programme provided an in-depth guide to the one of the Island’s conservation success stories, the Hen Harrier, and in the third, Jackie Hall of the Manx Wildlife Trust explored the wildlife riches of the rocky shore.

The fourth and last programme was devoted to the Ayres, and took the form of a quest to find two very special insects: the Heath Beefly and the Scarce Crimson and Gold Moth. Entomologist Steve Crellin and Manx National Heritage’s Kate Hawkins led the search, ably assisted by the new Ayres Warden, Erica Spencer. Along the way, the diversity of wildlife and vulnerability of the sand dune and coastal heath habitats that make up this, the Island’s first National Nature Reserve, were discussed. As is the way of things, neither the beefly nor the moth were spotted during the recording, but other fascinating insects and spiders were examined closely, including a male leafcutter bee with furry front legs which it uses to cover the eyes of the female bee in a kind of mating ritual!

Kate Hawkins of Manx National Heritage said: A Heath Beefly

“Our own Manx Radio does a great job of promoting Manx wildlife locally, but it is satisfying to get the Island’s fantastic natural history out to the wider world too. Four BBC radio programmes devoted to Manx wildlife in one series is quite a coup. It was a pleasure to work with the programme makers, and with fellow Island naturalists who have such a deep understanding of the significance of the Ayres and the role that insects play in its ecology.”

The wildlife of the Ayres will be celebrated at a special event at the Ayres Visitor Centre held by the Manx Wildlife Trust Northern Wildlife Group on Saturday and Sunday 18th and 19th October, starting at 10.30am on Saturday and 11.00am on Sunday. There will be talks, walks and displays all about the Ayres, from beach stones to beeflies.

For further information, contact the Manx Wildlife Trust, telephone 801985.

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