Calf of Man, Isle of Man

A swirling, 700-yard-wide sound separates tiny Calf of Man from the Isle of Man,  

a self-governing British Crown dependency located in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and England’s Lake District. (Its name comes from the Old Norse word kalfr, which translates roughly as “small island lying near a larger one.”) Ringed by steep slate cliffs, the diminutive island — measuring less than a square mile in size — claims one of the most important bird observatories in the British Isles, with more than 30 species of seabirds breeding here annually. Researchers can observe migrating patterns and large breeding colonies of Kittiwake, Razorbill, Manx Shearwater, Fulmar and Shag, along with Peregrine, Chough, and various species of gulls. A small flock of Loghtan sheep — a rare, native breed — graze on the heather-covered hills, while grey seals can be seen in the waters off shore or hauled out at low tide. Inhabited since prehistoric times and once home to Christian hermits, fugitives and farmers, Calf of Man is now a designated nature reserve in the care of Manx National Heritage.