Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Fox Takes a Twilight Tour of Butterfly Park


Fox sighted at New Ferry Butterfly Park
Fox sighted at New Ferry Butterfly Park

On a late afternoon trip to New Ferry Butterfly this handsome fox was spotted. He stopped to look at the photographer...


The fox stopped to look at the photographer.
The fox stopped to look at the photographer


…then carried on through the vegetation on his rounds.


Fox walking away through the vegetation at the Butterfly Park
Fox walking away through the vegetation at the Butterfly Park.

Photographs: Richard Ash


Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Beginning a New Year at the Butterfly Park

We hope everyone enjoyed a peaceful Christmas and New Year. Here are some January photographs from New Ferry Butterfly Park.


Hazel catkins
Hazel catkins

One hazel bush is out in flower already.


Guelder rose berries
Guelder rose berries


Guelder rose berries are still on the bush, a sign that the migratory thrushes like redwing have not found them yet.


Frozen pond at the Butterfly Park
Frozen pond at the Butterfly Park


The pond froze over - we have not seen that many times in recent years.

The Butterfly Park is closed to the public until May but we hope these pictures inspire you to keep looking for nature's changes through the winter. It's a great boost to wellbeing while we try to cope with the latest lockdown. As ever we would love to see any photos you take. You can email us or contact us through our Facebook page.


Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Ivy and Mistletoe at the Butterfly Park


Cross section through hawthorn with ivy surrounding the branch
Cross section through hawthorn with ivy surrounding the branch


We decided to fell one dying ivy-laden hawthorn, as it hung over the path. The photograph above shows the cross section through the sawn trunk. The hawthorn is the brown wood, the ivy the white wood. So more ivy than hawthorn! Ivy is an excellent plant for wildlife with flowers in autumn that are rich in nectar for insects feeding up before hibernation. Then berries ripen in January for the birds and there is shelter at any time of year for insects and small birds. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and ivy can take advantage of dying trees to develop a large crown which then makes the tree likely to break. So encourage ivy - but in the right place.


Sawn down hawthorn tree
Sawn down hawthorn tree


This is also a good time to see mistletoe as the leaves have fallen from the apple trees.


Mistletoe on apple tree
Mistletoe on apple tree


We introduced mistletoe to New Ferry Butterfly Park over a decade ago, partly as an educational plant to talk about parasitism in plants. It is flourishing on our various self-sown apple trees, and has spread to a hawthorn. The berries are not properly ripe till January or February, which is when the blackcaps and mistle thrushes will eat them.


Mistletoe on apple tree
Mistletoe on apple tree


However, for people there is no kissing under it this year - except within your household or Bubble!

Hilary Ash


Thursday, 17 December 2020

Fantastic Fungi


Blue Roundhead toadstool
Blue Roundhead toadstool

While out working with the North Wirral Coastal Park volunteers at the Gunsite in early October, John McGaw came across a lovely blue 'toadstool'. 

Looking on the internet he thought it may well belong in the genus Stropharia, possibly S. caerulenta, the blue roundhead. 

He referred it to RECORD, who passed it to a fungus expert, who said `It is most likely to be a Blue Roundhead. It’s hard to be 100% sure without seeing the gills closely though. You are correct in thinking this is an unusual record for the area, I’ve had a look on our main database and there are only 8 records from our area'. So a most unusual and interesting sighting.


Collared Earthstar
Collared Earthstar 

A week later John found another unusual one nearby, Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex

It has been a good year for fungi. Has anyone found other unusual ones?


Thursday, 3 December 2020

One Man Went To Mow at New Ferry Butterfly Park


Flail mower coping with the bumps in Charlie's Field
Flail mower coping with the bumps in Charlie's Field

The many restrictions this autumn have put practical management well behind on many natural sites, but particularly on New Ferry Butterfly Park, where there is much grass that has to be mown to stop it smothering next year's growth.


Charlie's Field before mowing
Charlie's Field before mowing

It became obvious we would not be able to cope with it all by scythe, as we usually do. So we decided to spend some of our donated cash on a contractor. Tony Rainford from RS Securities came and did it with his large flail mower, and very kindly charged us a greatly reduced price!


Charlie's Field after mowing
Charlie's Field after mowing

Thank you, Tony!!


Acid grassland before mowing
Acid grassland before mowing

Mowing in progress on the acid grassland

Acid grassland after mowing


Friday, 27 November 2020

Help Wanted To Plan Our Wildlife Survey Programme


A quadrat at Thurstaston Common, one of the sites we survey
A quadrat at Thurstaston Common, one of the sites we survey.


Help needed! One of the key activities of local naturalists is the surveying and monitoring of local wildlife. Here in Wirral some of this is undertaken and managed by the Wirral Wildlife group. We are lucky to have many sites of special wildlife interest in the Wirral and need to monitor how they are doing over the years. This lets us spot any changes including new species and losses of biological diversity in our area.

We need someone to help our team with the planning and management of our ongoing program of surveys and recording. All our records contribute to national wildlife recording databases which are key to preserving our wildlife for future generations. The task is not onerous but does require some basic computing skill, as records are now all held electronically. Most of the work is January - March each year as the surveys are planned.

If you think you may be able to help us with this important aspect of our work for local wildlife please contact Hilary, Margaret and Ron via email info@wirralwildlife.org.uk or ring Hilary on 0151 327 5923.


Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Treasurer Wanted for Butterfly Park

 

Howard receiving the Eric Thurston Award
Howard receiving the Eric Thurston Award

Howard has been Treasurer of New Ferry Butterfly Park for over 20 years and is retiring next year. We need someone to take over from him and the new person can shadow him to learn the ropes.


What does the Treasurer do?

Accurate accounts need to be kept of donations made at the Butterfly Park and any purchases made. The busiest day is the Open Day in May when petty cash is needed and then money taken has to be counted and banked. The Treasurer checks bank statements every month and may be asked to supply information for grant applications. The accounts must be prepared annually for approval by an auditor and a verbal report is given at the AGM.


How long might this take?

Around an hour a week in the summer when the Butterfly Park is open. Half a day after Open Day to count cash, pay it into the bank and update records. A few hours are needed to complete the annual accounts.


If you have the skills for this role or want to learn them Howard will run through it all with you.

Any offers of help or questions can be emailed to info@wirralwildlife.org.uk and they will be passed on to Howard.