Reserve Fact File: Onchan Wetlands in Winter

Monday 13th February 2017

Onchan Wetlands Entrance © Dawn Dickens

Learn about this suburban nature reserve and explore with our Spotter sheet

Manx Wildlife Trust is the Island’s leading nature conservation charity and it aims to protect the fabulous and varied Manx wildlife for the future. This is achieved in part by acquiring and managing 24 nature reserves, encompassing almost 300 acres of land and thereby conserving some of the best habitats and species on the Island.

Nine of our twenty-four reserves are open to the public and we encourage locals and visitors alike to visit them and enjoy their tranquillity and cherish the sights and sounds found on them. This column hopes to encourage you to visit some of these areas and use the Spotters Guide to explore them. So, if part of your New Year’s resolution was to make your life a little wilder than why not take up this monthly challenge?

Onchan Wetlands, a.k.a. Curragh Kiondroghad

Location
Church Road, Onchan. OS map reference SC 400 782 Lat & Long 54⁰10’29.7 N 4⁰27’07.9W

Access
Park on Church road near to the garage and walk through Onchan Green towards the fence at the back. This reserve has a boardwalk and is suitable for wheelchair access.

Exploring Time
This reserve is one of our smallest at 0.4 ha., so plan for a walk time of half an hour.

About the Reserve
Onchan Wetlands, also known as Curragh Kiondroghad, meaning bridge end is primarily a curragh habitat. Curragh is the Manx term for willow scrubland, which makes this site a wetland. The reserve also features a pond, broadleaved trees and grassland.

What is now a nature reserve, used to be the site of a dam for Howstrake Mill, which closed in the 1930’s. The surrounding area was redeveloped in the 1980’s and the parcel of land was kindly donated to the Trust by the building developer Keith Lord. In the 1990’s the Isle of Man bank helped to fund works at the reserve to enable public access and enjoyment. The bank to the left when looking at the reserve was actually a boundary for the old parish tip.

Things to see
In Spring, look for the nodding catkins on the grey willow and white willow (so-called as the underside of the leaves have fine white hairs.) Also the pond may have some frogspawn. Please note that it is illegal to move frogspawn from a pond, diseases and invasive weeds can be easily transferred doing this and can cause havoc with the ecology of the pond. The grassland area supports buttercups, clover, marsh thistle and yellow rattle to name but a few and the pond is fringed with beautiful yellow flag in the summer.

Autumn sees the growth of fungus among the rotting timber and the leaves turn fabulous colours. The bare branches in winter give an excellent view of birds foraging for berries and food, as well as unveiling the miniature world of moss clinging to the branches of the trees.

Species Spotter Challenge
Use our Spotter sheet to help you spot several species around this nature reserve. Allow time to stop and stare and try to walk both ways around the circular path, as you will often see different things from different angles. I would also recommend that you stop by the entrance gate and take in the fabulous singing of the birds which flit around the hedges here. Spring is just around the corner, so get out quick to spot some of these Winter species.

Read more about Onchan Wetlands and find a map, here.

Photos: Pathway leading through the reserve (top) and Pendulous sedge (bottom) both by Dawn Dickens.
 

Downloads

FilenameFile size
Onchan Wetlands Spotter Sheet - Winter787.52 KB