Wednesday 29 December 2010

New Natural England officer for Wirral

Natural England have appointed Alice Kimpton as temporary officer for Wirral terrestrial SSSIs. Some of you may remember Alice as a Ranger on North Wirral Coastal park about 10 years ago.

Hilary Ash, Mathilde Baker-Schommer and Lynne Greenstreet at Red Rocks

Hilary Ash, Mathilde Baker-Schommer and Ranger Lynne Greenstreet met up with Alice on a chilly West Kirby beach in December to look at management, especially of the reedbeds and natterjack toads. Alice had not visited the beach for 8 years, and was amazed and delighted at the new "Green Beach" of salt marsh and sand dune which is developing there. The new area already supports a variety of specialist flora and fauna, including one rare moth, the Sandhill Rustic. It is developing pools which will hopefully be suitable for natterjack toad breeding in a few years. Lynne and Alice talked about creating temporary pools for the toads in the meantime. The only problem is the salt marsh taking over some areas of mud used as high tide roosts - the birds tend not to come into the marsh which is more liable to disturbance by dogs and people. Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens do a good job in educating users about not disturbing the birds, but cannot control everything! We walked round the CWT reserve at Red Rocks marsh, admiring the spread of Mackay's horsetail, a rare fern, which has greatly increased in recent years along the southern part of boardwalk.

Friday 24 December 2010

Christmas wishes

Merry Christmas from John, our Treasurer, and the rest of the Wirral Wildlife committee.

Thursday 16 December 2010

Mersey Tidal Power

We have received this information from Peter Robertson, Acting Regional Director of the RSPB, and want to let as many people as possible have the chance to comment on the proposals by Peel Renewables to harness energy from the River Mersey.

At our meeting on 9th September we told you that Peel Renewables were drawing up a shortlist of projects. However, at that stage we did not know what was on the shortlist. We were hoping that Peel would seize the opportunity to utilise emerging new technologies that could operate without harming the Mersey Estuary’s important wildlife. Unfortunately Peel have not done this.

We argued from the outset that the aim of the project should not be to maximise energy outputs in such a sensitive wildlife site. However, their shortlist of three options all put energy before wildlife. A full impoundment barrage is worryingly emerging as the frontrunner, though largely because of economic arguments. However, this option would need to be situated in deep water downstream of the ship canal, which would therefore need locks to allow ships to pass, or an expensive extension to the ship canal. A full impoundment barrage would undoubtedly be the most damaging option.

The two remaining options are what they term a “very low head barrage”, one in a similar position to the first barrage, and one in shallower water upstream of the ship canal. What they term very low head would still create a difference in water levels of two to three metres, and would only be 2 metres lower than the full impoundment barrage. It would also be very likely to cause significant damage to the Mersey estuary and the wildlife it supports. We cannot yet say how much damage would be caused, because in spite of the fact that schemes have been ruled out on the basis of economic and technical assessments, no full ecological assessment has yet been undertaken.

Peel 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 will 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

You can make your views known by commenting on their website which some of you have done already, thank you, or by sending an email. Peel are also organising a series of community consultation events which are listed below. If you can make any of these events, please do go along and ask them questions. For example, why have they discounted various options for technical and financial reasons, but have not discounted any for ecological reasons? You could ask them if they have assessed the ecological impacts of each option. Or more specifically, what will the impact of each option be on Dunlin, Teal or Redshank? You could ask if they have fully considered the impacts on flood risk as a similar barrage in the Netherlands seriously increased flood risk. You could ask about the carbon budget, and if construction or carbon locked-up in estuarine sediments have been factored in. Finally, you could ask 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. We are particularly disappointed that more environmentally friendly options were ruled out, mainly because of their flawed aim to maximise power output. This should never have been the aim within one of Europe’s richest and most protected wildlife sites.

The dates and venues of the community consultation events are:

· Thu 16 Dec 12pm - 6pm, The Bluecoat, Liverpool

· Tue 11 Jan 2pm - 7pm, Ellesmere Port Civic Hall

· Thu 13 Jan 12pm - 6pm, Bromborough Library and Civic Centre

· Sat 15 Jan 10am - 2pm, Britannia Inn, Riverside Drive

· Thu 20 Jan 12pm - 6pm, Stobart Stadium, Widnes

· Sat 22 Jan 10am - 2pm, Eastham Country Park Visitors Centre

· Mon 24 Jan 12pm - 5pm, Garston Community Library

Tuesday 30 November 2010

MP visits Butterfly Park

Last Friday Alison McGovern MP enjoyed a "frosty" visit to New Ferry Butterfly Park on Friday, hosted by Janel Fone, chief executive of Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Stephen Ross, chair of Wirral Wildlife and members of the Butterfly Park committee. Fuelled by hot coffee, she had a tour of the Park and discussed various topics including:
- The on-going campaign to save the Park, including access.
- Problems with damage by a neighbour
- The effect on Cheshire Wildlife Trust and on people seeking careers in ecology of the demise of the Future Jobs Fund.

Janel and Hilary Ash will now be writing letters for Miss McGovern to bring to the attention of relevant ministers.

Award winning Sparrow

Our Treasurer John Gill is far too modest to tell you himself but his picture of a house sparrow recently won a local photography award.

Friday 26 November 2010

Cockling on Leasowe Shore

The cockle bed at Leasowe (off Leasowe Gunsite) has recently been opened by North West Fisheries for commercial cockling resulting in many vehicles on the beach racing up and down without any regard to local residents or the birdlife. This area is a Special Protection Area, a Special Area of Conservation, a Ramsar site and a SSSI yet the fisheries can completely disregard all this. As well as the disturbance and noise there is litter and mess scattered everywhere; local tax payers will have to pay to get it all cleaned up. There is also the question of public safety as this is an area where many people go walking. I would advise everyone who is concerned by this to voice their concerns to the local press, MPs and councillors, but in particular complain to North West Fisheries - The more people that complain the better.

This video of the beach gives an idea of the scale of the problem

Thanks to Richard Smith of the Dee Estuary Birding website for the information.

Thursday 21 October 2010

New Ferry Butterfly Park on Merseyrail poster

When Alex Rowan came to the New Ferry Butterfly Park with his Scout group he really enjoyed it. In school, he was asked to draw a poster for travelling somewhere by train and he picked the Butterfly Park. He was one of the winners. The poster is going to be up on Merseyrail stations and is part of their new calendar.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Thursday 7 October 2010

Another Apple Day

Did you miss our Apple Days at Brimstage or Eastham? Or did you enjoy it so much you want to do it all over again?

Wirral Tree Wardens are holding their own Apple Day at Tam O'Shanter Farm on Sunday October 17th 12-3pm.

As well as apple varieties and the Wirral Wildlife wooden press to make juice, there will be many children's activities.

Everyone is welcome.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Overchurch woodland saved

Jean and her team have asked us to pass on the good news to all the people the appeal went to. A tremendous effort by local people has raised over £34,900 and the decision of the public meeting was to pursue an agreement with the Woodland Trust, so that the Woodland Trust would hold the land but it would be managed by a local group, similar to the Friends of Storeton Woods.

Because Jean doesn’t have all the contacts, and some donations have been sent in anonymously, she has asked us to send out the great news and a massive thank you for what everyone has achieved in such a small space of time. There is to be a follow-on meeting on Wednesday 20th October at the Overton Community Centre at 7 p.m.

‘Many thanks again and congratulations to everyone’ Jean

Botanical Recorders at work

Voluntary botanical recorders have been doing a survey on Wallasey Golf Course SBI. This photo shows them busily engrossed in identifying a plant that turned out to be Fool's Parsley. It fooled them by being rather shrivelled after the salt-laden gales of the previous week.
Thankyou to Ron Warne for the photograph.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Wildlife Quiz

The latest Wirral Wildlife Prize Quiz is now running. The price per entry is 60p and copies of the quiz may be purchased at our meetings or obtained by sending a stamped addressed envelope with your 60p payment to:
Wirral Wildlife Prize Quiz, Lindisfarne, 25 Park West, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 9JE

There are 21 clues. The first 7 clues lead to the name of a bird; the next 7 are other animals; and the rest are places in Wirral where you might find wildlife.

The closing date for receipt of completed entries is 31st January 2011. The prize for the winner will be a gift voucher value £10.00. The judges’ decision in all cases is final. The name of the winner and the answers will be published in the newsletter of Wirral Wildlife. All the proceeds from this quiz will go to Wirral Wildlife.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Save the bat roost

We have heard about an appeal relating to part of Overchurch Park Woods SBI, which is adjacent to the western end of the J2 spur of the M53. It is SBI because it contains bat roosts in trees; Noctules, Pipistrelles and Brown Long-eared. Most of the SBI is owned by Wirral MBC, but part was originally Scout land and recently has been owned by a developer, who put it up for auction on 9th September 2010. Local people, desperate to protect the land, have managed to win at auction, and now need to make up the funding. Please read what they have to say:

"We would like to make you aware of some developments in our local area, namely the sale of the woodlands that run alongside part of the Upton By-pass to behind the Overton Community Centre. These Private Historic Woodlands were auctioned on 9th September 2010.

Many local residents had concerns that these woodlands may fall into undesirable hands, the woodlands becoming damaged and Anti-Social Behaviour occurring causing great fear and distress that the general peace and serenity of our area may have been adversely affected. So Volunteers from Friends of Warwick Park and Overchurch Residents Association worked quickly to spread the word to residents and have worked together to find a solution to a potential problem at very short notice.

Since last Monday more than £16000 has been pledged by local residents of Upton, who felt that the risks were too high if we didn’t attend the auction and attempt to purchase the land. At auction we purchased the land at a cost of £28500 plus legal fees. We are now keen to raise the rest of the funds required as if we are unable to pay within 28 days of the auction the land will be sold to another bidder.

The generosity and pride in our community has been overwhelming and we need to work together to ensure the safe future of this woodland.

If you have questions about why we are doing this or would like to make a DONATION please Ring Jean on 07762641297 or via email

Please help us to raise the rest of the money needed to secure our historic woodland or who knows who will buy it or what may happen?

All previous and new donators are invited to attend a meeting at Overton Community Centre (160 Royden Road, CH49 4RH) on Wednesday 15th September at 7pm to consider the future management of the woodland.

New donations can be made by ringing the above numbers or at this meeting on Wednesday. All donations are greatly appreciated (receipt will be given).

Cheques should be made payable to “Overton Community Centre” and have your address, contact number & name written on the back.


Tuesday 17 August 2010

Silver Jubilee for Wirral Countryside Volunteers

On August 14th Alison McGovern MP was invited to New Ferry Butterfly Park to unveil a seat made by Wirral Countryside Volunteers to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

A splendid cake had also been made (but didn't last as long as the bench will!).

The volunteers celebrated their work with an afternoon barbecue.

For details of Wirral Countryside Volunteers and how to join them in their work, see their website

Friday 30 July 2010

Wildlife Watch group is relaunched

The Wirral group of the Wildlife Watch club is relaunching this weekend with a Meadow Safari. This is a club for children aged 8 to 12. Places are limited and booking is essential. Telephone the Visitor Centre on 0151 648 4371 to reserve your place.

Saturday July 31st
Meadow Safari 2 – 4 p.m.
We will be making our own “pooters” before investigating the insect life of the meadows at Wirral Country Park using sweep nets, beating trays and our own pooters.

Saturday 14th AugustA Big Moth Breakfast 10 – 11.30 a.m.
Join us at Wirral Country Park to open up the moth trap to see what’s been caught overnight. There will be some weird and wonderful moths inside, but don’t worry you won’t have to eat any!

Saturday 11th September
Bat Detectives 7 – 9 p.m.
On this trip to the Dungeon Woodland we will be searching for bats before they go into hibernation for the winter. Come along and have a go on our bat detector!All children must be accompanied by an adult for this event.

Saturday 9th October
Wildlife Garden 2 – 4 p.m.
Come along and help us to create the Thurstaston Watch Club’s very own wildlife garden at Wirral Country Park. We’ll make bug boxes and create habitat piles for now, but this is just the start of a long term project! We’ll do more in the spring.

Saturday 20th November
Mud Soup 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
We’ll be out and about on Thurstaston Shore to look at the thousands of waterbirds that visit us in the winter. They feed on worms in the gloopy mud but we won’t be getting muddy we’ll use telescopes to spy on them!

Saturday 4th December
Our Days Are Numbered 2 – 4 p.m.
Come and join us making calendars for 2011. We’ll use recycled materials to make a calendar to record our wildlife moments for the coming year.

Monday 26 July 2010

Talk at Thurstaston Visitor Centre


Wirral Country Park Visitor Centre, Thurstaston
Wednesday 28th July 2010

An illustrated photographic talk by Derek Cotgrave, a well known and accredited bird ringer and photographer, featuring birds from the African continent and elsewhere. Entrance is £2 per head, with refreshments included.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Ness Gardens summer events

Andrew Lambie, Adult Education Co-ordinator at Ness Gardens has asked us let our members and supporters know that they will now be running all adult education activities themselves as their partnership with the Welsh College of Horticulture has ended.

Andrew says: "We have developed what we feel is a strong, interesting programme of courses, workshops, guided walks and lectures at Ness for anyone who is interested in learning more about plants, wildlife and gardening. This includes a range of introductory workshops/courses and the RHS Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture."

Gardening Club
What should you be doing every month to get the best of out of your garden? All is answered in this monthly guide.
First Tuesday of every month, 10.00-12.30.

Ness through the Seasons
There is always something see at Ness, with thousands of plants from all over the world. Learn more about the plants at Ness and gain inspiration for your own garden.
Last Tuesday of every month, 10.00-12.30.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the Ness Gardens website. To book and for further information telephone 0151 353 0123.

Saturday 3 July 2010

Big Lunch at New Ferry Butterfly Park

Carole is organising a 'Big Lunch' at New Ferry Butterfly Park, kicking off at around 12.30 p.m. on Sunday 18th July. Pop down to the Butterfly Park, bring some food to eat and share with others, enjoy a walk around this beautiful nature reserve and take in the art trail. Our entrance is up Howell Rd (at the back of Aldi), New Ferry and next to Bebington Rail Station car park. (all outdoors so if it rains too much we may have to cancel, keep up to date on our facebook page).

The Big Lunch began life as a wild seed at The Eden Project who believe the world can get better by working together, with nature, optimism and common sense. By simply having some fun on one day in July, we can build new friendships that we can enjoy for the rest of the year. For more details see

Have you seen this bee?

We are being asked to look out for this bee, Bombus hypnorum.

This is a new bumble bee for us in Cheshire. It is a frequent species in Continental Europe, but first appeared in the UK in 2000 and has been expanding its range steadily since. It has been found near Warrington this year. It appears to like urban and woodland habitats. Look out for the fox-coloured thorax and the white tail. If you see one, please report to rECOrd via their website

Seaside events in July and August

Sunday 11th July Count Me In Beach Party. 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Join Count Me in for a day on Thurstaston beach recording its marine life. Meet at the Thurstaston visitor centre Wirral Country Park.

Thursday 22nd July Life at the Seashore. 10 a.m. – 12 noon
Join the Wirral Rangers and staff from the Blue Planet Aquarium and discover what has been washed along the shore by the tide. Meet at Hoyle Road slipway (next to the RNLI Station) Hoylake. No need to book. For further enquiries Tel: 0151 678 5488 or email

Thursday 29th July Life at the Seashore. 10 a.m. – 12 noon
Join the Wirral Rangers and staff from the Blue Planet Aquarium and discover what has been washed along the shore by the tide. Meet at the end of Marine Promenade New Brighton . No need to book. For further enquiries Tel: 0151 678 5488 or email

Thursday 5th August Seal Watch and rock pooling. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Join Cheshire Wildlife Trust on a trip to Hilbre Island. The group will leave the slipway at West Kirby at low tide and walk the 2 miles across the sands to Hilbre Island. The day will include a seaside scavenger hunt, rock pool dipping, bird and seal watching. Not suitable for children under 5. Venue – Hilbre Island, West Kirby, Wirral. Contact Jan Shone by telephone on 01948 822218 or email for more details and booking.

Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th August Albert Dock Watch
This year the weekend will be devoted to the biology and history of the Albert dock and the Irish sea beyond. There are many events. Check the Liverpool museums website for more details.

Thursday 12th Aug Life at the Seashore. 10 a.m. – 12 noon
Join the Wirral Rangers and staff from the Blue Planet Aquarium and discover what has been washed along the shore by the tide. Meet at the sea front car park at The Gunsite, North Wirral Coastal Park . No need to book. Tel: 678 5488 or email

Thursday August 19th Hilbre marine life
Join Cheshire Wildlife Trust on a day at Hilbre seal and bird watching and rummaging on the rocky and sandy shores we will leave the slipway at West Kirby at low tide and walk the 2 miles across the sands to Hilbre Island. The day will include a seaside scavenger hunt, rock pool dipping, bird and seal watching. Not suitable for children under 5. Venue – Hilbre Island, West Kirby, Wirral. Contact Jan Shone by telephone on 01948 822218 or email for more details and booking.

Tuesday August 24th High tide Hilbre Island trip. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This is an exciting opportunity to visit Hilbre Island over the high tide with Cheshire Wildlife Trust. The group will leave the slipway at West Kirby at 9 a.m., 2 hours before high tide. The trip involves a 2 miles across the sands to Hilbre Island. An excellent opportunity to have close encounters with birds, such as waders and their predators as the high tide drives them onto the island. Seals and sea birds will be seen offshore. Not suitable for children under 5. Venue – Hilbre Island, West Kirby, Wirral. Contact - Jan Shone or Gill Bellairs. Telephone 01948 822228 or email for more details and booking.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Butterfly Park Open Day

Last Sunday New Ferry Butterfly Park opened for the summer. Despite a chilly day with no butterflies flying, we had nearly 400 visitors and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Photo: Richard Ash

Photo: John Gill

Photo: Jan Peddie

Photo: Jan Peddie

The art installations are staying for the summer (indeed, there will be more of Carol's engravings on perspex as the season progresses), so do come any Sunday afternoon to visit.
Photo: Richard Ash

Photo: John Gill

More pictures from the day can be found here:

And for further details about the park, see our web site:

Thanks to Richard Ash, John Gill and Jan Peddie for sharing their photographs.

Thursday 29 April 2010

Woodland Walk

Thank you to Paul for taking us on a guided tour of Tom’s Paddock, Foxes Wood and Thornton Wood last Saturday. The weather was lovely and 15 people, including two welcome visitors from CWT North group, enjoyed the afternoon. The photographs give you some idea of the plants we saw but we also spotted 4 species of butterfly and heard black cap and chiff chaff singing.

The hedge laid at the edge of Tom's Paddock...

Foxes Wood and the Clatter Brook...

An impressively twisty old oak tree in Foxes Wood...

Pink purslane...

Wood Sorrel...

A clump of Kingcups...

An unfurling fern...

The pond in Thornton Wood...

Sunday 18 April 2010

Butterfly Park springs into action

Sunday May 2nd 2010 sees the Grand Opening of New Ferry Butterfly Park for the Summer of 2010. Artist in Residence Carol Ramsay has curated an Art and Sculpture Trail with her own work and also featuring work by artists Karon McGunigall and Hayley Parfitt, as well as a joint installation by Emma Kemp and Chris Colville. The event will take place from 11am to 4pm.

Amongst other things, visitors will be able to see an interactive percussion instrument, multi-storey insect habitats and a range of hanging botanical illustrations to help inform their visit. Children will be invited to help cover the park’s new (t)wigwam with found objects from the park itself. The Day will include a series of art workshops and woodland craft demonstrations, tours of the park, nature walks, art and craft sales, tombola, face painting and a BBQ. Entry is free and all proceeds from donations and sales will be in aid of New Ferry Butterfly Park.

Carol Ramsay has a blog describing her work at the Butterfly Park as Artist In Residence:

Saturday 10 April 2010

How to make a bat box

If you came to Nic Harding's talk about bats last night you will agree it was most interesting and entertaining - and will have enjoyed meeting Bert the Pipistrelle bat.

Some people were interested in making a bat box so here are some instructions you can print off (right click on the image and save it to your computer first).

Don't forget that the wood must not have any preservative or varnish on it as this will poison the bats that use it. Put it about 9 feet above the ground and wait for the bats to arrive.

Don't forget that the Wirral Ranger Service holds guided bat walks for the public. You can always let us know of your bat sightings by sending us an email.

Monday 22 March 2010

Wildlife Crime Unit Investigator wins international award

Andy McWilliam, a former Wildlife Crime Officer with Merseyside Police and now a National Wildlife Crime Unit Investigator, has won the Clark R. Bavin Award. The announcement was made this month at the 15th meeting of the CITES Conference in Doha, Qatar. For several years, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), a non-governmental organisation based in the United States of America, has presented awards to people who have engaged in law enforcement actions to protect species of wildlife listed in the Appendices of the Convention. These awards are given in cooperation with the Species Survival Network, an international coalition of over 80 non-governmental organisations, including AWI. The awards, named after a former chief of the law enforcement division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have traditionally been presented by the Secretary-General of CITES. Apart from his CITES work, Andy has worked tirelessly over the years to bring to justice people who have persecuted and abused birds and animals in the UK and this award is very richly deserved.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Butterfly man wins Dragonfly Award

After two decades of dedicated voluntary nature conservation work, Paul Loughnane, Secretary of Wirral Countryside Volunteers and Secretary of New Ferry Butterfly Park, has scooped the prodigious Unilever Dragonfly Award and a £1,000 prize in recognition for his environmental efforts at sites around the Wirral Peninsula.

The Unilever Dragonfly Awards are run by the Mersey Basin Campaign and recognise volunteers from across the Mersey and Ribble river catchment areas whose dedication has made a real impact on environmental improvement projects. This is the last of the Unilever Dragonfly Awards, as the successful 25 year old Mersey Basin Campaign draws to a close next month.

Paul has been honorary secretary of Wirral Countryside Volunteers for 16 years and has organised a varied programme of events throughout the Wirral and beyond. Paul has had a sustained relationship with the Mersey Basin Campaign gaining 23 grants and awards in the last 15 years. The Wirral Countryside Volunteers have been involved in pond restoration at Thornton Common a Site of Biological Importance which has benefited wildlife including longhorn beetles and thick-legged flower beetles and has been naturally colonised by Great Crested Newts. At Thornton Wood, a Site of Special Scientific Interest which lies along Clatter Brook, Paul and the volunteers have developed a six year hazel coppice rotation supplying hedging stakes for hedgerow restoration projects throughout the Wirral. Here bluebells and primroses flourish under this coppice regime. Paul has organised a woodland craft display at Eastham Country Park’s annual Woodland craft for more than a decade. Here the Mersey Basin Campaign have sponsored many interesting and hard to come-by woodland craft tools. The volunteers also work on the most westerly point on the Mersey Basin catchment area, at Gilroy Nature Park, West Kirby, near the source of the river Birket.

The Wirral Countryside Volunteers are currently based at New Ferry Butterfly Park. Here Paul has organised hedge-laying training days, scything parties to mow the meadows, and he hosts an annual celebratory BBQ in August. Paul enthused “We have been mowing grasslands and raking up the cuttings for over a decade now. It is a long haul; we are seeing the fruits of our labour as there are an increase in the number of cowslips in the spring and common sorrel, betony, meadow buttercup and red clover in the summer.” Paul, receiving the award at the park, reflected that “Here, at the park, is an area of land previously used for antisocial behaviour which has now turned into a community asset. This microcosm, admirably reflects the aims of the Mersey Basin Campaign which has helped to turn the Mersey from something neglected into an asset. In our own small way we have an impact and reflect the aspirations of the Mersey Basin Campaign.”

Thursday 4 March 2010

Spring tide

The spring tide this week saw the water covering the marsh at Parkgate and reaching the wall. The Dee Estuary website contains information about dates of future high tides, as well as all the species of birds that were seen this week. I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle of seeing so many birds on the move. If anyone has any photos or details of sightings they would like to share, please email us and we will add them to the blog.

Monday 15 February 2010

Seashore search

Sixteen people joined Kathryn Turner on the beach at Thurstaston. Half an hour of searching revealed 23 species, ranging from hydroids to seaweeds. These will all be entered into a database of species found on the coasts around the Irish Sea.

Here are some photos of the afternoon...

If you want to get involved in recording beach finds, you can contact Kathryn by email.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

Kathryn Turner will be giving a talk about the Irish Sea this Friday (the 12th) at Heswall Hall. There are more details on our website. If you would like to meet Kathryn before the talk, she will be at Thurstaston Visitor Centre at 2pm and will then lead a walk along the beach. This is an opportunity to spend some time exploring a local beach with an expert on hand.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Butterfly Park case in court

Last month Wirral Council agreed to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order on New Ferry Butterfly Park so that it can continue to be run as a nature reserve. After this the current owners threatened to damage the site. So, on Monday, Cheshire Wildlife Trust took the case to court and were granted a legal injunction to prevent any damage. The land owners have now agreed not to enter the park without the permission of the Wildlife Trust.

After the hearing at Birkenhead County Court, Janel Fone, chief executive of CWT, said: “What is important is to secure the long term future of the Butterfly Park, and I think today has helped us ensure the short term future – which gives us space to work towards the longer term.

“We really did not want it to come to this. We have been trying to have discussions with Brock and get an undertaking from them and to work with them on the future of the park. It’s a shame it has come to this.”

New Ferry councillor Steve Niblock, who has been supporting the campaign to save the park, said he was pleased with the outcome of the court hearing. He said: “This is a short term step towards a fuller court hearing in some weeks time.” He added CWT had offered to buy the park site from Brock and had they accepted “their generous offer” the court action could have been avoided.

Brock again refused to comment. Although any activity by the company (or associate companies, D. Morgan plc and Frithmere Ltd) on the reserve would now be a criminal offence we ask anyone who spots anything suspicious to report it to one of the following groups:
  • New Ferry Butterfly Park Committee: Paul Loughnane 645 8937 or Hilary Ash 327 5923
  • Cheshire Wildlife Trust: 01948 820728
  • Police Wildlife Crime officer, DC Kenneth Dummigan: 777 5447 or police HQ 709 6010.
  • British Transport Police (for trouble at the height barrier on the access road): 0800 405040.
  • In emergency, if there is evidence a crime is in progress: ring 999.
Thank you for your support.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Black Poplar Planting

Irby Primary School pupils are doing their bit to help Britain's rarest tree, the native black poplar. Last week they planted 13 young trees in their school grounds, with help from Wirral Tree Wardens. The young trees have been raised from Wirral and Cheshire stock by members of the Cheshire Black Poplar Biodiversity Action Group.

Mrs Joan Sheery, from Irby Primary School, said: "We are pleased to plant these trees in our grounds, where they have room to grow to maturity. As well as helping local wildlife, they will in future provide much-needed shade for pupils and staff when out of doors."

Native Black Poplar has become rare because its natural habitat, unaltered river flood plains, is now in short supply in Britain. Wirral has about 70 trees, but most are elderly, so it is important to plant new stock to replace them. All those found so far in Wirral Borough are male, though female hybrids do occur.

Wirral's Black Poplars grow mostly in gardens, but one is very visible along the Upton Bypass, on the Cricket Club fence just behind their nets. This is quite a short tree compared to many Cheshire specimens, but shows the gnarled bark, red catkins in April, and habit of growing slanting.

More information on black poplar in Cheshire can be found on the Cheshire Biodiversity Partnership website.

Friday 15 January 2010

Wirral Borough Council takes action to save Butterfly Park

The Cabinet of Wirral Borough Council decided on 14th January to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order on New Ferry Butterfly Park, to save it from closure. The process will start within the next few days, but can take some months to complete.

The CPO is being issued on environmental and social grounds. The Park supports at least 397 species, including butterflies, moths, bees, spiders, shield bugs, pond life, and a long list of plants including two species of orchid. The social benefit has been shown by the willingness of people to sign the public petitions.

Hilary Ash, Hon Conservation Officer, said "We are very grateful to everyone who has signed our petitions, and all the people who have made great efforts to collect signatures on behalf of the Park. The paper petition submitted to Wirral MBC reached 1990, and the e-petition 1542, a grand total of 3532. Thank you, everyone."

Once the legal procedures have gone through, it is the intention of Wirral MBC to sell or lease the Park to Cheshire Wildlife Trust, to continue as a nature reserve managed by the local community. Substantial donations have already been offered, and a public appeal for funds will be launched in the near future. Over the last 16 years, the New Ferry Butterfly Park committee has raised over £24000 in grants and £3000 in donations, all to make the Park accessible for visitors, keep it secure and aid the wildlife.

Cllr Steve Niblock, who has been actively backing the campaign, said “I am delighted that the Cabinet have agreed to Compulsorily Purchase the Park, following the groundswell of support from local people to save this gem in New Ferry.”

The Butterfly Park currently has about 35 volunteers involved in various roles, including wardening, practical management, hosting educational and other groups, fund-raising and publicity. However, more volunteers are very welcome! Contact Hilary Ash (327 5923), Paul Loughnane (645 8937) or send an email.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Butterfly Park Fight Taken To Parliament

Wirral South MP, Ben Chapman, will present a petition against the closure of New Ferry Butterfly Park to the House of Commons, on Monday 11th January. This is a last minute attempt to stop the park from closing, after landowners Brock PLC gave notice to vacate the land by the end of the month.

The presentation of the petition will take place just days before Wirral Borough Council’s Cabinet Meeting, on 14th January, where a decision on a Compulsory Purchase Order is expected to be made. The petition, which has been available for the last few weeks in the MP’s constituency office, requests that the House of Commons “urges the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to encourage Wirral Council and others to do all they can to secure the retention of the Butterfly Park”.

Ben Chapman commented: “I hope that this gesture in the House will go some way to encourage those that have the power to save the park, to do so.

I have expressed my view on the importance of safeguarding this urban nature reserve countless times. Many of my constituents as well as wildlife enthusiasts have written to voice their support. Lord Harrison, who once represented Wirral in the European Parliament also wrote to express his concern for the future of this invaluable asset. I have passed all correspondence on to Steve Maddox, Chief Executive of the Council for his consideration.

I hope the Council is fully aware of the vast amount of support this campaign has attracted, and will consider all possible measures to secure the park’s future”

Hilary Ash, Hon Conservation Officer for Wirral Wildlife, added “We have been amazed and touched by the support from all sides of the community for our campaign to save New Ferry Butterfly Park from closure. Over 3000 people have signed out petitions to Wirral Borough Council. We are especially grateful to Mr Chapman, a long-term supporter of the Park, for taking this to national level. Hopefully it may also benefit any other nature reserves that find themselves under threat from private interests.”