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.