I set off to Douglas for an appointment as the sun was coming up and was back in Port Erin by 11.30 having walked a couple of miles around Douglas and another mile home from Four Roads as for some reason the bus decided to drop me off on Church Road outside Southlands. It was beautifully sunny and I had plans to have an early lunch, do my marking, get on a number 28 to the Sound and walk back over the cliffs.
By the time I had finished despairing with psychology students who write overlong, onerous essays, the sun had gone in and I didn’t have time for my little venture, so instead I walked from home through Port Erin up to Bradda East, on to Bradda Head, followed the coast path back to Port Erin, up to the breakwater and then back home – a surprising distance of 5 miles. I am really glad that my back is not objecting to exercise as it makes such a difference to my quality of life. On the way, I met Dr Blackwell and we had a chat about gannets, which prompted me to do some research when I got home, as he raised the question of ‘how do gannets know where the food is in order to dive so precisely’? He made the point that the water is hardly clear and many fish do not disturb the water significantly, so it was a bit of a mystery. I was tempted to answer that it might be something to do with patterns of light, but as I had no good reason for thinking this, I kept my thought to myself. However, it appears there may be something in it. Firstly, gannets have binocular vision which gives them a clear focal point. Secondly, “birds that plunge-dive or strike at fish perform visual detection and location of submerged prey from the air under complex optical conditions, including variation in the reflection and refraction of light”. The article I quote from here actually goes on to talk about how gannets have different eye structures to ourselves and in air the cornea of gannets is more responsible for focusing than the lens, whereas the lens which is spherical comes into play when the gannet is underwater. If this topic interests you, you can read more about it here: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/279/1745/4118
Sadly, I did not see a gannet – it out of season for gannets, but I did see a Little Egret on Port Erin beach, the first time I have seen one there.
I also saw the fairy house that has been placed on the nook opposite the Milner Tower. It’s rather a shame it has been placed on a grotty wall rather than rock, but it is quite cute. It lights up at night apparently.
The light and clouds made interesting patterns over the Calf and Milner Tower. I still haven’t found a basic camera that can produce easy natural photos like my i-phone. I hope your enjoy these photos:
There may be more tomorrow as I have another trip to Douglas, followed by my flu jab, and if time, I shall have a trip to Dhoon Glen, which I have still never visited!