Sunday, 10 February 2019

Winter 2018-19 at Cleaver Heath


Cleaver Heath sunset

Visitors continue to come to Cleaver Heath in all weathers. Many come regularly to exercise their dogs and others stumble across it while exploring the rural delights of west Wirral. All enjoy the stunning views which vary according to the weather, light conditions and tides in the Dee Estuary. The sunset photo here is just as it came out of my camera – no funny business, I swear.

The fine new interpretation board, whose installation I highlighted in the Autumn Newsletter, has been joined by strategically placed arrowed way markers.

Cleaver Heath noticeboard

Waymarker

As you can see, the noticeboard has now been baptised with snow as well as rain.

Reassuringly, the newly stoned path has stood up very well to rain/sleet/snow and heavy usage. This was another key part of the Tesco Bags of Help scheme (more later).

Path on Cleaver Heath

Snow on heather

Fewer visitors are finding it necessary to deviate from the main path. The close-up photo of the heather covered in snow was taken from the official path now signed through the north-east section of the heather panel. Likewise, the sunset view photo was taken from the path without resort to trampling across the heather.

Nevertheless, we do have to venture off-piste when carrying out our main conservation work.

Woodcock. Photo: Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

This year, I have to confess to disturbing a Woodcock on 3 occasions this winter. Two were down in the lower heathland panel - labelled B in the habitat/working area map shown below. These lovely winter visitors resemble a snipe in general shape and come from Eastern Europe. They lie low during daylight and feed after dusk. The third occasion on which I disturbed one was when collecting piles of dog waste in the woodland edge of area G. It shot out on its typical 20° flight path, weaving between the trees until it got to Oldfield Road where it swerved sharply and shot up the road. You can easily see that this fine photo is not one of mine, as usually featured in these newsletters, but is a professional one from the Wildlife Trust’s stock (c. Mark Hamblin/2020VISION).

On the topic of dog waste, the presence on the main noticeboard of a sign about keeping dogs on a lead has been very helpful, but there are still regular users failing to pick up. In an 8-day period last week I collected an unbelievable 34 piles. I have put up a temporary notice drawing dog owners’ attention to the nearness of a regularly emptied litter bin just outside the new northern entrance. My volunteers deserve to have clear paths and verges from which to work and the heather deserves a quiet life on unenriched soil.

Winter work parties have gone well this year. I like to think that the systematic cutting and stump treatment really is having an effect. In years gone, by it took us until the end of the cutting season to complete our work. This season we had completed it before Christmas. The regrowth was much reduced. This was a direct benefit of the Trust’s Natural Futures programme which paid for herbicide training and the purchase of related equipment. As a result, we have been able to make use of volunteer effort on more varied tasks! People who want to get a better idea of what work is done where may find the following map helpful.

Map of Cleaver Heath

The main manual work removing birch, bramble, bracken and European gorse is in the heathland panels labelled A and B. In these areas saplings are pulled (sometimes with the ‘Tree Poppers’) or cut and painted with glyphosate. The ‘scrub’ areas such as D and F are coppiced selectively i.e. we cut the older/taller birch and gorse. The aim is to hinder the natural succession which would take place in this small heathland area while keeping good low-level shelter for wildlife. The nest boxes in the woodland areas C, I and G have now been given a final clear-out ready for spring. We hope to get help again this year with removing the bracken litter from area E (listed as ‘Restoration?’. This has been sprayed twice and raked twice. It would be a shame if we don’t manage to keep on top of it. Natural England has been very keen that we try to extend the heathland areas. We know from the soil sampling that this is feasible - in principle.

Volunteers at Cleaver Heath

Finally, I should offer a big thank you to Tesco for their ‘Bags of Help’ scheme and to all of you Tesco shoppers who put their blue tokens in the correct box. The Trust’s Living Landscape Officer Kevin Feeney, in particular, put a lot of effort into leading multiple bids to the Bags of Help Scheme for several Trust reserves and then leading the installation.

Tesco Bags of Help

Putting the noticeboard in place at Cleaver Heath

Notice the attention to detail here – not just one spirit level but two. Community Conservation Coordinator Fiona Megarrell (on the right here) will be back later in February to welcome some staff from Tesco to check out the reserve and perhaps also help with some suitable practical work.

Cleaver Heath sign

Alan Irving
Volunteer Reserve Warden for CWT
Cleaver Heath
February 2019

Friday, 8 February 2019

Wirral Wildlife Quiz Winner and Answers


Red Squirrel – answer to question 27 in the quiz. Photo: Peter Trimming
Red Squirrel – answer to question 27 in the quiz.
Photo: Peter Trimming






















The judging for the 2018 Wirral Wildlife Prize Quiz is complete and I am pleased to announce that the winner is:

Helen Smith of London.

A total of 20 entries were received, and of these three got all the questions right.  Helen Smith was selected in the random draw; the other two with full marks were Mrs Enid Bradshaw of Gayton and Shirley Miller of Neston.

I would like to pay tribute here to my fellow judge, Ruth Dann, who sadly passed away in December. She was the original inspiration for the Wirral Wildlife Prize Quiz and was a great help in carrying out the judging in all previous quizzes. Tony Hailwood has agreed to join me in judging future quizzes.

The answers to the 50 questions are given below.

John R Gill
Hon Treasurer, Wirral Wildlife

1Deceased departs.4, 6Dead leaves
2Singer following thirteen, one of twelve.6, 7Willow warbler
3Evil to God is criminal bloomer.3, 6Dog violet
4One of five, maybe 43’s head?6Pignut
5Wholemeal and self-raising I hear.7Flowers
6Joseph’s little brother hides instrument of torture for thirty.7Bracken
7 Welsh mother has French pains with this type of animal.7Mammals
8Carol links this with 42, intravenously we hear.3Ivy
9Golf club with dawn herald, one of twelve.8Woodcock (or Woodlark)
10Obvious feature of woodland, seen in the centre especially.5Trees
11Wooden enemy? No, wind flower.4, 7Wood anemone
12Bait rod as oddly as you like.5Birds
13One of ten is going to cry of pain.6Willow
14 Water from middle of Denbigh castle.5Brook
15Kate, or Stirling, perhaps.4Moss
16Morose head Zulu, tailless and ruffled by one of seven.5, 8Hazel dormouse
17Swinging, so hang like a tree.7, 3English oak
18One of five members of the upper house.5-3-6Lords-and-ladies
19One of twelve strict evens after thirteen.6, 3Willow tit
20She, lucky one, distilled a perfumed climber.11Honeysuckle
21Words snoop about, losing nothing in some of five.9Snowdrops
22The French chase pulverised vegetable, one of forty.6, 6Ground beetle
23Gloomy clanger, one of five.8Bluebell
24One of ten, I can hear you!3Yew
25Thirty, I leave Len Friday confused.4, 4Lady fern
26Male offspring of male sheep? One of five.7Ramsons
27Liverpool quarrel with article substituted by one, one of seven.3, 8Red squirrel
28Crust-like growths spoil niche in outskirts of Leeds.7Lichens
29A southern writer, one of ten.5Aspen
30I prefer no artificial flowers, and that includes this type of plant.4Fern
31Harry’s become calmer, not led into burrow.7, 4Badger’s sett
32Can you hear highway and sensory organ, one of seven?3, 4Roe deer
33Sulphur, one of forty.9Brimstone
34Try ’eadgear, mum, without hesitation, for one of forty.4, 4Goat moth
35I can hear wigeon calling - including this one of forty.6Earwig
36Audibly acted like a hen after midnight clearing.5Glade
37Two gallons in a sledge would reportedly find one of forty.8, 4Speckled wood
38What makes Amy score? One of ten.8Sycamore
39Little Eleanor with article in German car travelling westwards.6, 3Fallen log
40Six-footers, members of cults.7Insects
41Timber Farah employed without daughter, one of seven.4, 5Wood mouse
42Fifty involved in chopping up sacred tree.5Holly
43Owl, a bird, is confused with this one of seven.4, 4Wild boar
44One of five from planet of a beagle maybe?4, 7Dog’s mercury
45One of twelve noticed clever, feline, Goddess of Pop.7, 10Spotted flycatcher
46One of ten, tall plant follows non-domestic army or navy perhaps.4, 7, 4Wild service tree
47Cowardly Michael or Gabriel, one of five.6, 9Yellow archangel
48Some of twelve are here so keep crowd working.11*Woodpeckers
49One of five, the Spanish goes back after programming error.5Bugle
50Roosevelt carries alfresco meal.5, 5, 6Teddy bears’ picnic

* Apologies for the figure “10” that incorrectly appeared on the question sheet.

Friday, 1 February 2019

A New 17 Hectare Wildlife Haven


We have some good news from Cheshire Wildlife Trust:

Sand martin
















Tarmac have begun to hand over part of their Crown Farm Quarry site in Delamere to Cheshire Wildlife Trust, marked by the presenting of keys to a vehicle funded by Tarmac last week. The site will be transformed by the Trust into a new 17-hectare wildlife haven, Crown Farm Nature Reserve, providing homes for beautiful wildflowers, solitary bees, grassland butterflies and birds, as well as a venue to inspire the next generation about the value of nature.

Tarmac and Cheshire Wildlife Trust hand over

















Tarmac began quarrying the 65-hectare Crown Farm Quarry in 1989. The site, which was mainly agricultural farmland beforehand, has been quarried over the last three decades for sand to use in the manufacturing of concrete, mortar and asphalt used to maintain and develop our built environment. As part of Tarmac’s planning permission to extract the sand, they were required to have a plan for how the site was to be restored and to include a variety of wildlife habitats once extraction finished. To deliver the restoration plan, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Tarmac have already been working together for a number of years to prepare areas of Crown Farm Quarry for the handover.

“With quarrying now finished on part of the site, Cheshire Wildlife Trust will manage the restored area as Crown Farm Nature Reserve,” said Kevin Feeney, Living Landscapes Officer for the Trust and the nature reserve manager.

Common Blue butterfly
















“We’ve already seen birds like sand martins and butterflies like small heath butterfly, the common blue and small coppers start to move back into this area, which is incredibly exciting. For me, it clearly shows the resilience of our wildlife – if we provide bigger, better and more joined up areas for nature, species are able to move back in.”

Crown Farm Quarry is located within an area of gently rolling woodland, farmland and heathland. It’s a wonderful place that tells the area’s history – the pockets of sand were formed during the last ice age and was once was part of the ancient forest of Mara and Mondrem.

Steve Williams, Crown Farm Quarry Manager said “We're proud of our partnership with Cheshire Wildlife Trust and look forward to working with them in the future to develop the nature reserve.

“We are committed to enhancing the biodiversity of our sites and hope that by working with the Trust we will be able to create something special for Delamere.”


No public access

Due to the quarry still being operational, unfortunately the reserve will not be open to the public. However we will be holding special events for supporters and delivering education sessions for schools within the new site's Discovery Centre, funded by Tarmac.

Take a look at our website to see all our wildlife havens. You can find your nearest reserve, see what's there and read any additional information you need to know before you go.