Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas


Thank you to Matt Thomas for the photo.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Hedgelaying In Action at Greasby Library

Click on the poster to view it at a larger size

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

40th Anniversary celebration


A group of Wirral Wildlife members met at Brotherton Park, Dibbinsdale on November 12th to mark the 40th anniversary of the group. Many had given 30 years or more of support.

The afternoon was dry and mild and two native Black Poplars were planted. A thousand years ago Black Poplars thrived on floodplains but it is now Britain’s rarest native timber tree. In 1993 scientists warned that this great tree could be extinct by the end of the century.To reduce this risk clones from Cheshire trees have been raised at Chester Zoo with the aim of re-establising the trees in suitable habitats. Our planting was to help to save what is becoming known as ‘The Forgotten Tree’.

Also a quince was planted in the walled garden in memory of Ray Walkup who organised valuable recording work at Dibbinsdale.

After these commemorations tea and homemade cakes were happily consumed. We are very grateful to the Rangers for enabling us to have this celebration at the park.

There is a slideshow from the afternoon on the events page of our website.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Tribute to Eric Warner

Eric Warner who died on the 28th September at the age of 91 was a past Treasurer of the Wirral Wildlife Group. When our late Group Chairman, Graham Harrison, was looking to fill the role he knew that Eric's past experience was just what the Group needed and a little persuasion did the trick.


As a committee member Eric not only kept a sharp eye on the accounts but also set out to contribute his bit to keeping a healthy balance. He set up the distribution of the Natural World, the Grebe and our newsletter by hand across the whole of the Wirral, thus saving the postage costs. At that time the Trust, in its early days, had little money on which to run and the savings were important. To achieve his aim of 100% hand delivered Eric drew in members from all parts of the Wirral to deliver in their own locality. This system is still running thanks to the solid basis he set up and, with rising postage costs, remains an important savings.


This was not the only innovation Eric set up, nor his only contribution to fund raising. During the early more financially difficult times of the Trust Eric seized on the opportunity to organize a fund raising game. The Trust was found to have small prizes and game facilities doing nothing. Without a moments delay and a quick car journey it was all gathered up and put together to become the “Frog Dip”. With its popularity at local events, and a small charge for playing, it became a steady source of funds for the group and continues to this day.


Eric's ablity to organize came from his long experience in the printing and publishing business during which he was responsible for setting up factories and running them both at home and abroad in Africa. It was typical of his character that he took time out, during that period, to take his degree at Sheffield University, having deffered the opportunity when leaving the RAF so that he could get down to work. In the RAF during the war he trained as a pilot but failed at the last ditch for medical reasons, and saw his time out as a bomber navigator in North Africa.


Eric was a keen walker and spent many happy hours in North Wales and Cheshire, rambling the footpaths and lanes in sunshine and rain. As his strength began to lessen the distances shortened but were still enjoyed, as was the pub drink and lunch. His health began to fail over quite a long period, but his strong character and determination enabled him to face this time with great courage and with the will to remain up and doing to the last.


The Trust owes a great deal to Eric who was, over a long period, an active supporter. His legacy remains with us.


We offer our condolences to Hope, his wife of more than 60 years, and his family of children and grand children.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Red Rocks Nature Reserve


There are several voluntary wardens checking all is well at Red Rocks Nature Reserve and this summer they started their 8th year of monthly visits. This is from their October report.

Sadly, there were no signs of breeding natterjack toads this year. However, the species is doing well at Ainsdale, north of Formby (from where spawn was transferred to the newly created scrapes at Red Rocks many years ago to boost its small population). At Red Rocks, it appears to be very difficult to provide these rather fussy little toads with suitable and safe breeding pools, despite Wirral Rangers continued efforts.

Looking beyond the reserve to the shore, we can see that waders have already returned to Wirral’s foreshores in good numbers, coming from their more northerly breeding areas. Some just stay briefly to ‘refuel’ before continuing their journey to southern Europe or even Africa, others will spend the winter around the British coasts.

The Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens have resumed their job, protecting wader flocks from disturbance at high tide and providing information about the various species. They do this on behalf of Wirral Borough Council who has a duty to safeguard the North Wirral Foreshore for wildlife.

Not everybody is aware of the ecological importance of this Foreshore. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (as is the Red Rocks Reserve in its own right), a national designation also given, in our area, to the Dee and parts of the Mersey. All these areas were afforded further protection at European and International levels several years ago, when they were granted “Special Protection Area” and “Ramsar site” status. For the Mersey Narrows and North Wirral Foreshore, these designations were only given on a provisional basis. Because of their continuing importance for waders and other bird species, they should soon become fully “designated” sites under the European Bird Directive and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

This step is good news and is being prepared by Natural England on behalf of the Government who is currently consulting on it. More information and site maps are available at:

www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/consultations/merseynarrows.aspx

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Tam O'Shanter Apple Day



Following our two successful Apple Days at Brimstage Hall and Eastham Country Park (there is a slide show on our website) we helped the Tree Wardens with their Apple Day at Tam O'Shanter Farm.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Wildlife fun at the library


During the school summer holidays we were asked to organise a wildlife themed morning at Pensby library. The 20 children learnt about two aquatic habitats and made dragonfly models, cardboard frogs and otter masks. Working in two groups they created two large collages of a pond and under the sea which now decorate the front of the customer desk at the library.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

New Ferry Butterfly Park needs your vote

Carol Ramsay, our artist in residence at New Ferry Butterfly Park Park, has put in a grant proposal (with NatWest Community Force) for hosting a wide range of workshops at the butterfly park next summer. Also for converting one of the empty shops in New Ferry into a temporary visitor centre/ art exhibition space, to help raise the profile of the park and encourage further community involvement.

In the NatWest Community Force scheme, which projects will gain funds is decided by a public vote. Voting opened yesterday (26th Sept).
Please would you sign up and vote for this, to help win some of the funding to make these projects happen:


Carol's book, showing the development of the art trail and other projects at the butterfly park during the last 2 years of her MA (fine art: archiving & site intervention) is here: www.blurb.com/books/2408319

Please do forward this on to any other interested contacts.

Many thanks,
Laura Jakobson

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tribute to Peter Saunders

Peter Saunders, who died on 11 August after many years of heart disease, was a great character - and a great supporter of Wirral Willdife.

He served on our committee for many years, drawing on his career as a local newspaper reporter to author many press articles. He knew just how to get them printed! He also inspired, started, and for a long time edited, our Newsletter, writing much material himself from "interviews" with the rest of us. Peter was very good at getting at what we were trying to say, and putting it in comprehensible form. He was always positive, never one to sit back and do nothing. John Magee wrote to say "I remember the help he gave when he received any article he had requested, he edited and livened up any story in a very professional way. He will be sadly missed by many."


Peter was also active in our sister organisations, Wirral Green Belt Council and Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Society. His wife Sheila supported him in many of his activities and cared for him in his later years. We send her our sympathy.

Hilary Ash remembers "Peter had a wide range of interests. I found myself meeting him in all sorts of venues: writing reviews of concerts I played, touring a model railway exhibition (where he enthralled our two sons by telling them of the time he got a footplate ride on the last steam train out of Birkenhead), at Wildlife Trust walks and talks, and simply walking across Wirral on the footpaths. he taught us all the value of good writing and good publicity."


Monday, 22 August 2011

Butterfly Park artist goes into print

Please find a link below to Carol Ramsey's Masters thesis on New Ferry Butterfly Park entitled 'Endangered Habitat: Place People Environment'.

The Thesis is an work of art in itself and can be previewed at the link below:

The photography is superb and if you view it under full screen you can read the text.

It is a wonderful resource for the park and a memento of the last 18 months of hard work and achievement put in by Carol and the team of artist that she curated. Carol’s project has boosted visitor numbers to the park way beyond our expectations and at a time when we desperately needed that public support while under imminent threat of closure.

Not resting on her laurels, Carol has put forward a project to host more workshops at the park and in New Ferry town centre. See the link below:

To be successful in winning the award, there is a public vote starting 26th September.
The future of the park is still not certain but projects like this really keep the excitement and interest in the park going

Paul Loughnane
New Ferry Butterfly Park committee member

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Seal spotting on the Mersey Ferry


Yesterday, while on a ferry to Liverpool, we spotted a seal. As we don't often do this trip we aren't sure how common this is but it brightened our journey.

Mersey Ferries are running some special wildlife cruises up the river and into Liverpool Bay. They take place on August 18th, September 3rd and September 15th. More details can be found on their website.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Badgers and Bovine TB


After the Government announcement about plans to control TB in cattle by culling badgers, you may be interested to read the information on this Wildlife Trust webpage:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Leafhopper Identification Workshops

Saturday 20th August
National Museums Liverpool, 10.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To book please email Tristan Bantock

Click on the image below for more information.

Drawing and Photography Workshops at Butterfly Park

Saturday 16th July
11 - 3 p.m.
New Ferry Butterfly Park
Drawing Workshop

FREE Drawing Workshop for artists to meet, have a tour of the Butterfly Park Nature Reserve and art trail and then spend time either alone or in groups drawing within the park.

We hope to concentrate on the history of the park through drawing. The site is based on the old railway sidings of Bebington Station where industry once thrived in the form of an old water treatment plant and former brickworks. There are still relics of the past to be found on the site and the industrial waste left behind by humans provides a rich and varied soil base for plants to thrive that would not usually be native to this area.

The workshop will take a very relaxed format whereby artists are encouraged to investigate the space and draw whatever appeals to them. Workshop leaders will be wandering throughout to offer advice. We will all then meet up over tea and cake to present our drawings to the group and offer constructive criticism and advice to each other.

Bring own paper and drawing equipment and a packed lunch.

The workshop is free but as the Butterfly Park is run by volunteers and these events are non funded, any small donations, though not necessary, would be appreciated.

The Butterfly Park will be closed to the public on this day. This is an outdoor event and as such weather dependent.
Booking required via email to Carol Ramsay


Sunday 17th July
11 - 3 p.m.
New Ferry Butterfly Park
Photography Workshop

FREE Digital Photography Workshop for amateur and professional photographers to meet, have a tour of the Butterfly Park Nature Reserve and art trail and then spend time either alone or in groups taking photographs within the park.

We hope to concentrate on nature and wildlife photography as there are many beautiful and unusual types of flora and fauna at the park. The industrial waste left behind provides a rich and varied soil base for plants to thrive that may not usually be native to this area, thus attracting many new species of butterflies and insects to the site.

The workshop will take a very relaxed format whereby participants are encouraged to investigate the space and photograph whatever appeals to them. Workshop leaders will be on hand throughout to offer advice. We all then meet up for discussion over tea and cake to present our images to the group (as seen through digital display panels on your cameras and possibly through a laptop) and offer constructive criticism and advice to each other.

Bring own camera equipment and packed lunch. There is no electricity on site so no place to charge cameras, batteries etc.

The workshop is free but as the Butterfly Park is run by volunteers and these events are non funded, any small donations, though not necessary, would be appreciated.

The Butterfly Park will be open to the public this day. This is an outdoor event and as such weather dependent. Booking required via email to Carol Ramsay

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Wirral Council's Free Insulation Scheme

Janet Thorning, Education Officer for Wirral Council, has asked us to pass on details of a scheme to encourage people on the Wirral to insulate their house:

Free insulation is available to those living within the Wirral Council area. If you own your home, or rent privately and can get landlord's agreement, check out the Wirral Free Insulation programme. It's funded by the Council and British Gas, and managed by Wallasey-based energy efficiency charity Energy Projects Plus.

What is covered by the scheme?
  • Cavity wall insulation
Generally, houses built after 1930 have cavity walls. If yours have not been insulated, you can have it done - for nothing.
  • Loft insulation
If you have less than 150mm (6") insulation in your loft, you could have it topped up free of charge. If you're over 70 or have health problems that mean you can't get into your loft to clear out the space, the scheme can arrange to do that for you at no cost. If you're not in that category, the scheme could still do it for you, but you'd have to pay. If a small section of your loft is boarded over, you might still be able to have the rest done.

Uninsulated cavity walls can let around a third of the heat in your home escape, and an uninsulated loft can let around a quarter of it out. That adds up to a massive heat loss - bad news with fuel prices rising. Now's the time to get the work done, before next winter, and while there's still money in the kitty for the scheme.

To find out more, ring the free advice line 0800 512 012. Once you've registered your interest, a surveyor will arrange to call to check suitability, and you'll be put on the list to get the work done by Hillserve contractors.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Good news for future of Butterfly Park

On 29th June 2011 Judge David Hodge at Liverpool Crown Court confirmed that we will not have to vacate our lease at the New Ferry Butterfly Park.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust's chief executive Dr. Janel Fone said: “The New Ferry Butterfly Park continues to be a highly-valued community wildlife resource and we welcome this decision by Judge David Hodge, not only for the biodiversity at the Park but also for the local community that enjoy spending time there. We are of course disappointed that we have had to take these steps to secure the future of the Butterfly Park. The wildlife benefits of sites such as New Ferry Butterfly Park within the wider urban context cannot be underestimated, and we hope we can now work towards safeguarding the nature reserve for future generations.”

Although Cheshire Wildlife Trust could still be issued with a notice to quit, Judge David Hodge said: “The only grounds on which I can conceive it succeeding are on redevelopment of the site, and there may be difficulty in securing planning permission in view of the nature of this land.”

Common sense about Ragwort


Monsanto, Barrier Biotech Ltd, Ragfork, The British Horse Society and Warwickshire Council have been caught out by the Advertising Standards Authority displaying inaccurate and misleading information on their websites and in leaflets about Common Ragwort, a British wildflower important for wildlife conservation. All the organisations have agreed to remove information that wildly exaggerated how many horses die from Ragwort poisoning or made false claims that landowners have a legal obligation to 'control' it.

Advertising codes are laid down by the Advertising Standards Authority to ensure advertising is legal, decent, honest and trustful.

Monsanto, an agricultural company who sell a range of ragwort herbicides made false claims on their website stating that "landowners have a legal obligation to control Common ragwort and prevent its spread". This is not true. A land owner may be ordered to control ragwort if there is a significant risk to livestock and they have not followed the Government's 'Ragwort Code' but there is no automatic legal obligation.

Defra state that "The code of conduct does not seek to eradicate ragwort. Ragwort as a native plant, is very important for wildlife in the UK. It supports a wide variety of invertebrates and is a major nectar source for many insects".

Ragfork a company selling a ragwort removal tool, claimed that "It is responsible for the deaths of up to 6,500 horses and ponies in the UK each year." They conceded there was no evidence for this and removed the statement from their website. In fact numbers are so low that the Government have stopped recording them. In the UK Government figures for 2005 record just 13 deaths.

Matt Shardlow, Buglife Chief Executive said "At least 30 insect species are entirely reliant on Ragwort and about a third of them are scare or rare. Ragwort is also a critically important nectar and pollen source for hundreds of species of butterflies, bees, moths, beetles and flies, helping to maintain what remains of our much declined wildlife. While it can be harmful to horses in large amounts the main threat is dried ragwort illegally sold in hay and this is where we should focus efforts, not on spraying the countryside with more pesticides, or ripping plants out of roadside verges.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Mersey Barrage Scheme on hold

Claire Reed, Marine Conservation Officer (North West) for the RSPB, has news of the proposed Mersey Barrage Scheme:

"Peel Energy is putting the Mersey Tidal Power project on hold for at least the duration of this term in government as the scheme is not financially viable under current renewable energy subsides. This is obviously great news (for now) and I want to say a huge thank you for all your support over the past year. Below is the official press release produced by Peel, which was sent out this morning:


A preferred option report (Stage 3 Feasibility Study) which includes the final decision on the type of tidal technology to be used in the Mersey Tidal Power project has also been produced and is now available for comment at the link below:

http://www.merseytidalpower.co.uk/

It states that, although currently uneconomical, the preferred option for tidal technology on the Mersey came out as a full impoundment barrage, as we thought. We know this to be the most environmentally destructive type of tidal technology that exists to date, even though Peel have stated in the study that it is broadly environmentally acceptable. Consequently, we are pulling together a press release in response to this. We will also state that we welcome the fact that this proposal has been shelved, but that we do encourage the developer/government to continue to look into the environmental implications of new types of tidal power technology so we may better understand these should the proposal on the Mersey resurface in the future.

This now brings into question our proposed programme of summer Mersey campaign activities, and where this announcement leaves us. This is certainly not the end for the Mersey Barrage Campaign. Over the next few weeks I would like to encourage as many of you as possible to write to your local press editor and express your views at this announcement. I will be in touch with further details about this soon.

Many thanks again for all your support. We don’t know to what extent local voices have influenced this decision, but I like to believe voicing your concerns certainly added weight to this."

Monday, 30 May 2011

Tree Bumblebee

Steve McWilliam of rECOrd has emailed with news of a Tree Bumblebee.

Have you seen the 'new' Tree Bumblebee yet? The information sheet below describes the bee and shows some good photographs to simplify recognition and identification. I hope it helps you to record this species whilst you are in your garden or out and about in the countryside.


It seems to favour nectaring on Cotoneaster flowers but I have also found it at Columbine (Aquilegia), Rhododendron and Raspberry flowers.

You can help plot its increasing distribution by submitting your sightings to the rECOrd website www.rECOrd-LRC.co.uk. We look forward greatly to receiving your records of this bee.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Butterfly Park Open Day


Despite a wet start people turned up for New Ferry Butterfly Park Open Day on Sunday. Local MP Alison McGovern formally opened the new Caravan Visitor Centre and planted some common sorrel in the Mobile Allotment. The sun shone in the afternoon and photographs from the day can be seen in a slide show on our website www.wirralwildlife.co.uk/events.html. There are also three new artworks to be seen in the park.

Burbo Bank extension consultation

The Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm Extension programme of community consultation has begun. The first series of public consultation events are happening in the area later this month as follows:

Tuesday 17th May 2011 – 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Wellington Community Centre, Wellington Road, Rhyl, Denbighshire, LL18 1LE

Thursday 19th May 2011 – 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
St Stephen’s Church Hall, St Stephen’s Road, Hightown, Merseyside, L38 0BL

Friday 20th May 2011 – 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Floral Pavilion, Marine Promenade, New Brighton, Wirral, CH45 2JS

Saturday 21st May 2011 – 12pm to 6pm
Hoylake Community Centre, Hoyle Road, Hoylake, Wirral, CH47 3AG

These events are to present details of the proposed project, to listen to your views and obtain community feedback.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Wirral orchid theft

A number of native marsh orchids have been illegally dug up from a field managed for nature conservation in south Wirral.

Wild flowers are protected from destruction in the UK through the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) making their removal a criminal offence, with penalties ranging from a £5,000 fine or up to six months imprisonment.

A number of wildflower species such as bluebells, snowdrops and orchids receive additional protection under the Act, in some cases against sale. It is not known why the orchids were removed in this case.

The theft was discovered by the owners of the field where the orchid colony was thriving. Dr. Hilary Ash, Hon. Conservation Officer for Wirral Wildlife said: “We’re deeply concerned to have heard about this destruction of protected wild flowers, especially given the stiff penalties that are in place and several years since similar offences took place on the Wirral.

“Digging up wild orchids is particularly senseless, as due to their complex relationship with a fungal species in the soil, they are unlikely to survive once transplanted. Our wildlife is already under immense strain from the threat of climate change and other pressures without the added problem of people digging up our native flora.”

The news comes as the Government asks the public to review all of the 278 pieces of environmental legislation in the UK as part of its ‘Red Tape Challenge’ – including the Wildlife & Countryside Act that currently protects much of the UK’s wildlife against disturbance or removal.

Charlotte Harris, director of conservation at Cheshire Wildlife Trust added: “This worrying case of the removal of one of our most striking native flowers only seeks to highlight the crucial role that our 30 year old wildlife legislation plays in the UK.

“Should those responsible have been caught in the act of destroying these marsh orchids, the full force of the Wildlife & Countryside Act may have been brought to bear, as we increasingly see with high-profile species such as wild birds - with imprisonment now a real possibility in the most disturbing cases.”

Ms Harris added: “With the loss of police Wildlife Crime Officers in the region last year, to also find our wildlife legislation - the last line of defence, under threat makes for challenging times for our wildlife.”

People being offered ‘wild’ plant species should make sure they have been grown in cultivation and not removed from nature conservation sites. Native British orchids are particularly difficult to cultivate and only a specialist supplier will be able to offer them.

Anyone who believes they have seen the removal or destruction of protected wild flowers should report the matter to their local police station.


Friday, 15 April 2011

Butterfly Park Open Day - 8th May



Don't forget to put this date in your diary.
Tombola prizes and homemade cakes welcome. Help also needed to put up and clear away or to take a turn on a stall or with pond dipping.
Contact Paul or Hilary for more details if you want to help.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monday, 7 March 2011

Swarm to Ness Gardens

The future of the UK bee population is under threat. On Sunday 13th March, Ness Gardens are hosting a full day of bee activities to support the ‘Save our Bees’ campaign as part of National Science and Engineering Week.

You will be able to test your navigation skills in the 'Bee-line' orienteering course, plant bee-friendly flower seeds in plant pots of your own creation, explore the world of honey through your tastebuds with honey sampling, learn all about the many different bee species from local experts, and much more.

Ness gardens staff will also be installing hives on the day which will be home to new bee colonies. These bees will collect pollen and nectar from Ness’s award-winning bee garden.

Buzz on down to this family friendly event and learn what you can do to help the bees before its too late...

Wildlife Gardening event

Friday, 25 February 2011

Save England's Forests

Whilst welcoming Government intentions to abandon plans for disposal of public forests, the campaign to protect and restore England's ancient forests must go on, warns the Woodland Trust.

"We welcome the opportunity for a more considered approach to the future of our much loved woodlands but our campaign continues. Whilst we welcome the removal of threats to public access, there is still an acute need for better protection of Ancient Woodland, our equivalent of the rainforests, and restoration of ancient woods planted with conifers. Even if there are no sales of publicly owned forests, the worst of all worlds would be for there to be no change to the loopholes that have allowed 850 ancient woods to be threatened by built development over the past decade. Ministers have made strong commitments over the past few weeks to increase protection for ancient woods, and we will be holding them to these commitments.

As I write, there is a proposal to water down protection for ancient woodland in the planning system. We need your help to defeat this proposal by 28th February.

What's it all about:
www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/campaigning/planning-changes/Pages/default.aspx

Take action now:
www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/campaigning/planning-changes/Pages/planningpolicychanges.aspx

We must not let public passion and support for our woods and forests die down and now that ownership is no longer an issue, we must not lose sight of the need to increase protection for ancient forests and restore those planted with conifers, a once in a lifetime opportunity for woodland conservation.

Our campaign will continue and we urge everyone to continue to sign our petition and transfer their passion about who owns England's public woods to ensuring that all of England’s woods survive in the future".

Thank you,
Sue Holden,
Chief Executive Woodland Trust

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Good news and bad news

An otter has been found in Wirral!

Unfortunately the animal was electrocuted on the railway line not far from Meols Meadow SSSI. Its body was recovered by Duncan Bevell, a Biodiversity Officer from the Environment agency who was alerted to it by a train driver.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Brightening up Bidston


Wirral Tree Wardens and the 8th Tranmere Brownies did their bit to help Wirral's environment last Saturday, with help from the Forestry Commission and Wirral Wildlife. 100 trees and shrubs were planted on the edge of an old landfill site at Bidston, on the northwest side of the M53 J1 roundabout. Trees were supplied by Wirral Countryside Volunteers, Wirral Tree Wardens, the Brownies and the Forestry Commission, with some grown from local seed. They included oak, hazel, dogwood, guelder rose, cherry, elder, purging buckthorn and hawthorn. This is part of the land, a former tip, which the Forestry Commission leased in 2006 and has been developing as community woodland. The 1970s landfill concerned was cleared and planted with trees and wild flower grassland. However, it became obvious that some extra trees and shrubs were needed to make an informal tree line near the road edge, to make sure the barn owls which feed in the area fly up over the traffic and do not get hit by vehicles. The weather was perfect and an enjoyable if muddy time was had by all planting the trees. Do look out for them when going past (but not if you're driving!)


The future for the Bidston complex, like all the Forestry Commission lands, is in doubt under Government proposals to sell off woodland or pass such areas to other organisations such as charities. Funding for those organisations which might take the woodlands on is doubtful, especially in the long term. Please make your voice known against these plans. See the DEFRA website for proposals and to make your views known, or sign the petition at www.38degrees.org.uk

Hilary Ash,
Hon. Conservation Officer

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Garden Moth Scheme


Have you heard of the Garden Moth Scheme? The purpose of the Scheme is to try and find out what’s happening to our common garden moths. What do you need to do to take part? You just need to count the numbers of common moths you see, for one night every week from March to November. The list of moths consists of about 200 species, common in your area and those that are difficult to identify are intentionally left out.

As well as sending results to your county's recorder you can also get involved in a nationwide scheme to get standardised data, which can then be used to study the effects of climate change, and changes in habitats, to act as a biodiversity indicator and to plot against garden features such as distance from nearest wood, greenspace etc or presence of pond, log pile etc in garden.

Further details can be found at www.gardenmoths.org.uk
Contact the local NW co-ordinator, Steve Orridge, by email or, the National co-ordinator, Dave Grundy, by email or telephone on 0121 446 5446.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Underground power cable route

There is a proposal to run part of an underground power cable from Wirral foreshore, down the length of the peninsula to Connah's Quay. To find out more about this and the public information events, please read the details below sent to us by SP Energy Networks.

I am writing to invite you to a public information event, which National Grid and SP Transmission are holding to outline proposals for the development of an underground cable route from the Wirral foreshore, to Connah's Quay, Deeside.

The plans form part of a larger scheme to connect new renewable energy sources in Scotland to the electricity grid in England and Wales through a high voltage subsea cable. To explain the proposed plan, answer your questions and listen to any concerns you may have we will be holding two drop-in public information events in your area.

Tuesday 8th February
Neston Community and Youth Centre, Burton Road, Neston, CH64 9RE
2 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Wednesday 9th February
Moreton Community Centre, Maryland Lane, Moreton, CH46 7TS
2 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Representatives from the National Grid and SP Transmission project team will be on hand to explain the programme and answer any questions you may have.

You can find more information about the project at: www.westernhvdclink.co.uk

If you have any questions about the events, please do not hesitate to contact our Community Relations team on: Freephone 0800 030 4137 or email

Claire Watson
Environmental Planner, SP Energy Networks
On behalf of SP Transmission and National Grid

Monday, 24 January 2011

Help needed at Irby Quarry

Wirral Rangers are organizing another Irby Quarry task day on Sunday 30th January meeting at the Quarry 11.30am. Volunteers are welcome.

This is a continuation of scrub clearing both on the ground and on the rock face (provided we have sufficient climbers available).

All tools, gloves etc are provided. Hope to finish around 3.00pm -3.30pm.

If you have trouble finding the entrance to Irby Quarry check on our web site www.wirral.gov.uk and search for Royden Park or ring here on 0151 677 7594.

Thanks

Paul

Wirral Rangers

Friday, 21 January 2011

Last chance to attend Mersey Barrage consulation

Peel Holdings have a final exhibition on the Wirral this Saturday, 22 Jan from 10am - 2pm at Eastham Country Park Visitors Centre.

Here is a copy of a letter from Janel Fone, CEO of Cheshire Wildlife Trust, and Charlotte Harris, the Director of Conservation:

Dear Cheshire Wildlife Trust member/supporter,


You may have read in the media recently about Peel Energy Ltd’s plans to construct a tidal energy structure in the Mersey estuary to generate renewable energy. Although Cheshire Wildlife Trust has urged Peel to consider less environmentally damaging technologies, their current shortlist of options focuses on the use of barrage systems. Tidal barrages are typically large dams incorporating turbines, that hold back or ‘impound’ a large volume of water, and then release it through the turbines to generate energy. In the case of a tidal barrage, it may be necessary to impound water within an estuary - in contrast to the natural tidal flow, reducing available areas of mud used by feeding birds.


The Trust is concerned about potential damage to the finely-balanced estuary ecosystem of the Mersey, through the use of a technology that is largely untested with regard to potential impacts on wildlife. Similar, small-scale projects elsewhere in the world have however, had damaging effects on estuary ecosystems, and environmental impacts were one of a number of concerns over the recent £30billion Severn barrage proposals shelved by the Government last year.


The Wildlife Trusts support the need to move towards ‘green energy’ to meet the Government’s ambitious, but necessary, targets for 15% of UK energy from renewable sources by 2020 – but striving to meet these targets should not be at a cost to the very wildlife and habitats we are seeking to safeguard from the effects of climate change.


There will be strong economic arguments put forward in support of the project, however we must fully understand the impacts of such a scheme in the long-term, both in terms of potential damage to an internationally-recognised wetland, and also aspects such as flood management. Can we justify such a high cost to a natural icon of the north-west, without knowing the consequences?


It is likely that any barrage scheme will affect the flow and dynamics of the estuary ecosystem, and Peel have recognised that the Mersey’s Special Protection Area (SPA) – a level of protection for birds at a European level, must be considered. We will not fully understand the potential damage to the estuary though until a full ecological assessment has been undertaken.


Peel Energy are hoping to have a preferred option by March 2011. They have said whichever option they choose, they will introduce measures to reduce the damage to the Mersey Estuary, but whatever they do, there may still be a significant reduction in the intertidal habitats, and the amount of time the remaining areas will be exposed for birds to feed on them.


Peel are asking for comments on their stage 2 report before 21 January 2011. The report can be found here

www.merseytidalpower.co.uk/sites/default/files/MTP%20Feasibility%20Stage%202%20Options%20Report%20Summary%20-%20November%202010_0.pdf


You can make your views known by commenting on their website or by email.


Peel Energy Ltd are also organising a series of community consultation events. If you can make any of these events, please do go along and ask them questions, such as:


1. Why have they discounted various options for technical and financial reasons, but have not discounted any for ecological reasons?


2. How will they assess the ecological impacts of each option?


3. Have they fully considered the impacts on flood risk as a similar barrage in the Netherlands seriously increased flood risk.


4. You could ask about the carbon budget, and if construction or carbon locked-up in estuarine sediments have been factored in.


5. Why they are not waiting for emerging technologies that may be able to harness energy without having a serious ecological impact? A technology known as SMEC (Spectral Mass Energy Converter) appears to have been dropped despite promising energy returns and reduced ecological impacts.


Dr. Janel Fone

Charlotte Harris

Monday, 17 January 2011

New Ferry Butterfly Park Events

Sunday 13th March
9.30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Removal of Portuguese Laurel and replacing with a holly hedge to benefit the Holly Blue Butterfly

Sunday
10th April
9.30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Spring clean up and preparation of the park for open day

Sunday 8th May
Open Day 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sculpture trail,
artists displaying their creations, various stalls,
environmental games, guided walks and pond-dips, children's activities and a BBQ.

Sunday 31st July
9.30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
The start of the annual mowing season regime.
Come and have a go at scything - it is easier and gentler than you think. Lunch time BBQ - bring along a contribution to cook.

The Butterfly Park is open to visitors 12 - 4 p.m. every sunny Sunday from May 1st until September 4th.
Volunteer Wardens are present to give you some information and a guided tour if you would like one.

For further details, contact Paul Loughnane by email or telephone on 0151 645 8937.