Reserve Fact File: Ballachurry Nature Reserve

Monday 28th August 2017

Loosestrife © Sheila NorrisLoosestrife © Sheila Norris

Learn about this fantastic wetland & wildflower nature reserve and spot the wonderful wildlife with our Spotter Sheet

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, why not make your life a little wilder and take up this monthly challenge?


Ballachurry Nature Reserve


Our newest reserve is located at the South of the Island near to Rushen church. Map reference is SC210695; latitude and longitude coordinates are 54°05’20.89”N 04°44’16.35”W.


Access to the reserve is off the A29 travelling from Port Erin towards the A7, go past Rushen church on your right and park on the roadside where the road bends slightly to your right, just before the next building after the church. It’s a great family friendly site with a bird hide.

Exploring Time

The reserve takes about 30 minutes to explore the paths, add on extra time if you download and take the spotting sheet with you and take time to bird watch and insect hunt! At present the paths that cross over the stream are closed to reduce disturbance for the nesting birds here, so please keep to the entrance side of the stream.

About the Reserve

This site is owned by Stan and Pam Clucas and leased to MWT who took over management of it in 2016. The site was originally arable land and became a nature reserve in 2007, it has two large ponds, areas of reeds and has been planted with oak, ash, rowan and birch. This site in particular contains a great variety of invertebrates and it is well worth taking time to turn over leaves to look for caterpillars and peer into the gorse bushes to find the well camouflaged gorse shield bugs (Look in amongst the hairy seed pods!).

Things to See

The reed beds are particularly fascinating, as they are not extensive on the Island and here grow taller than normal due to fertile soils. Stand and listen to the fabulous rustling sound these reed beds make due to the dried leaves lower down the reed stem. Look for the feathery flower heads at the top of the reeds which are a dark purple to begin with before fading in late summer.

Nestling in this habitat are reed warblers who weave a nest slung between the reeds, a bit like a hammock. They are small birds, brown on their backs and buff coloured underneath and so very well camouflaged, you will be more likely to hear their churring song than to see them. We also have coastal reed beds near to Niarbyl, and alongside the Lhen trench too, they are well worth seeking out.

At the moment, this reserve has a purple haze as the purple loosestrife is in full flower, its nectar is a valuable food source for long-tongued insects like bees, moths and butterflies. You are likely to see plenty of butterflies here red admirals, small tortoiseshells, speckled woods and meadow browns.

It is also an amazing site for ladybird (Did you know that ladybirds taste through their feet?!) and hoverfly spotting. The later is often mistaken for a bee and wafted away by people, but look carefully as they have a very flat body and are much smaller. Both hoverfly and ladybirds are excellent gardener’s friends feasting voraciously on aphids.

Our reserve warden, Sheila Norris writes a lovely blog about wonderful wildlife at Ballachurry, why not look it up and read more about this beautiful reserve. 

Species Spotter Challenge

Take along our Spotter sheet, all these things can be readily seen from the paths with keen eyes! It makes a great focus for any visit and great for engaging children with nature as well as providing more facts.

Make this your summer for going out and about and exploring nature, share your adventure with us on our Facebook page or Twitter by tagging @manxnature.

Read more about Ballachurry nature reserve.


FilenameFile size
Ballachurry Spotter Sheet - Summer1.48 MB

Tagged with: Ballachurry, Nature reserves, People & Nature, Spotter Sheet, Things to do, Wetland Habitat