Monday, 29 October 2012

Ash Dieback Disease

As you may be aware, the media have reported a new and very serious threat to the UK countryside in the form of a fungus Chalara fraxinea. This fungus has the capacity to decimate our native ash tree population, in much the same way as Dutch Elm disease wiped out the elm population last century. The infection is nowhere near us at present, but since infected trees moved for the nursery trade are the main means of long-distance spread, it could crop up anywhere.

It is important that we monitor ash trees this winter and during the spring and early summer months next year. The pdf documents in the links below (courtesy of The Forestry Commission) indicate what to look for. Lesions appear on the bark surface and can grow considerably in size. The bark underneath is often discoloured and grey or brownish. It can kill the tree, or lead to substantial die back of the crown. The leaves wilt from the tips but, as many other conditions also do this, the main ID feature is the bark.

Pictorial Guide to Ash Dieback Disease

Ash Dieback Disease Pest Alert

At the request of the Forestry Commission and Defra, can you:

1) Look out for signs or symptoms of the disease in ash trees.

2) Send any photos or descriptions, plus your location and contact details to one of the contacts listed by the Forestry Commission:
• Forest Research Disease Diagnostic Advisory Service
Telephone: 01420 23000 or Send email
Forestry Commission Plant Health Service
Telephone: 0131 314 6414 or Send email
Fera Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate
Telephone: 01904 465625 or Send email

If you have a camera and GPS on your phone you can use a new app, Ashtag, developed by the University of East Anglia to track the spread of the disease. Alternatively, you can manually upload a picture from your camera to their website:

At this stage the disease appears confined to the east of England but, as with many fast moving pathogens, early containment and identification is essential. Wherever you are, please check the health of your local ash trees.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Wildlife Trust Calendar

The Wildlife Trust calendar for 2013 will be on sale at all our events and at £6 makes a great present.

Why not come along to our Members' and Friends' Coffee Morning on November 3rd from 10 a.m. to noon?

There will be calendars and Christmas cards on sale, a Bring and Buy and raffle and a chance to meet other people who are working to create an environment rich in wildlife  for everyone.

Telephone 625 5570 for the address and directions to the venue.

Apple Days

In October we held an Apple Day at Eastham Country Park. If you saw our tasting table display and our supply of juicing apples you might have wondered why we didn't have as many apples as in previous years.

A disastrous sequence of weather, the wettest April for more than 100 years followed by a rainy and windy June wiped out up to half of England's expected apple production. The blossom just didn't open on many of the trees and then because of the rain and wind the  bees didn't fly to pollinate those that did flower.

Despite this we held a busy event with our display and tasting table, our wooden apple press to make juice, apple recipes on sale and some children's craft activities. Mersey Morris Men delighted everyone again with their traditional dances.

A couple of weekends later we joined in with Burton Manor's Apple Weekend which was a magnificent celebration of all things appley.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Apple Weekend at Burton Manor

On October 20th and 21st, Burton Manor is hosting an Apple Weekend.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days.

Entrance with programme purchased on the day. Adults: £1, children under 14: free.

Activities and events include:
  • Display of locally grown apple varieties
  • Apple tastings
  • Apple expert to identify your unknown apples
  • Gordale Nurseries with advice on growing fruit trees – discount vouchers available
  • Local Bee Keepers with demonstration hive, information and advice
  • Honey for sale
  • Competitions with prizes
  • Talks throughout the weekend
  • Expert advice on orchard management
  • Apple Press – bring your own apples and press your own drink
  • Burton Apple Juice for sale, produced from apples grown free from pesticides
  • Refreshments, including ploughmans lunch comprising local products and apples
Wirral Wildlife will be there with information about wildlife friendly gardening.

Follow signs for Burton Manor College, CH64 5SJ. Map of location.

For more information, telephone 0151 345 1107 or send an email

Small Mammal Trapping at Butterfly Park

Mammal trapping had not been carried out here before so it was with great interest that the Longworth traps were collected on a bright autumn morning. Ron and Sarah had put out un-set traps baited with birdseed on two previous nights so that small mammals could get used to them. On the Saturday evening they added slices of apple or carrot, fly pupae (in case insectivorous shrews were trapped) and hay bedding to each trap and set them. Left overnight a small mammal entering one would cause the door to close behind it and it would then spend a cosy night with plenty of food and moisture from the apple.

Half of the traps were sprung and these all contained woodmice (Apodemus sylvaticus). Each individual was carefully shaken out into a bag, removed by holding it gently by the scruff of the neck, sexed, checked for parasites and then weighed. 5 females and 6 males were identified, ten were juveniles weighing 14-18g and one adult male weighing 24g. All the woodmice were carefully returned to their habitat. No shrews or voles were trapped although leaving traps out in the daytime could have produced different results.

Trapping enables the species present to be recorded and if carried out at regular intervals can show population changes. If the animals that are trapped are marked by cutting off a small section of their fur in a particular area they can be identified if they are trapped again. If this is done on several individuals and trapping is repeated this enables the total population numbers to be calculated.

It was lovely to learn about this technique, to see these small mice at close quarters and learn about the value of monitoring their populations.

Leasowe Birdwatch

Over 20 people enjoyed a tour of Leasowe lighthouse on 5th October, led by members of the Friends of Leasowe Lighthouse. This was preceded by a birdwatch on the North Wirral coast and along the (flooded) fields nearby.

Read the next newsletter to find out what we saw!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Leasowe Lighthouse and Winter Birds Walk

Friday 5th October
Leasowe Lighthouse and Winter Birds Walk

Walk - 1 p.m.
Lighthouse tour - about 2 p.m.

A birdwatch for the winter months - Leasowe Bay at high tide. Walk from Leasowe Lighthouse to the shore, return to the lighthouse for hot drinks. The fit can climb the steps to the lamp room! No need to book for the walk, which is free, but booking needed for the lighthouse (cost £2.50) - telephone 0151 327 5923.

Meet: Leasowe Lighthouse, Grid reference: SJ253912
Location on Google Map

Leaders: Ed Samuels and Mathilde Baker-Schommer from Mersey Estuary Conservation Group, Rosemary Quinn from Friends of Leasowe Lighthouse.