Thursday 29 March 2012

Balsam bashing

Click on the poster to view it at a larger size

Monday 26 March 2012

Comma Project is coming to New Ferry

The following post is taken from Carol Ramsay's New Ferry Butterfly Park Facebook page: 

We will be signing the lease on our new shop in New Ferry next week and our first artist Gerald Curtis will arrive on site and be working from 2nd April-26th April. Very exciting!

If anyone would like to volunteer part time or even the odd day to work in the visitor centre part of the shop, meeting and greeting visitors and telling people what the project and the Butterfly Park itself is all about please email Carol.

Keep watching this space for more details and help spread the word... The Comma Project is coming to New Ferry!

Badger Vaccination

Cheshire Wildlife Trust to vaccinate badgers against bovine TB

Cheshire Wildlife Trust will begin a badger vaccination programme at one of its sites in the region this autumn.

The move comes in response to Defra’s decision to run trial badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset, and will take place at the same time as a vaccination programme in neighbouring Shropshire, on a Shropshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

The Trust does not consider culling badgers to be an effective method of tackling bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and considers that vaccination of badgers against bTB, along with improved bio-security measures, will help the long term disease control.

On the Cheshire and Shropshire sites this autumn, badgers will be cage trapped and injected with BadgerBCG vaccine. The programme will continue for five years.

“Vaccination offers a way of tackling the disease without any associated negative impact such as the perturbation effect that is bought about by culling” said Helen Trotman, who will be carrying out the vaccinations in Shropshire.

The ‘perturbation effect’ suggests that following a cull, any remaining infected badgers may disperse from their home territory and spread the disease across a wider area than initially affected.

“The Government has culled badgers for the past 30 years without any significant reduction of TB incidence in cattle. This is a complex problem that will not easily be solved but the Trust wants to do something positive and we know vaccination can significantly reduce the disease burden in badgers.” added Helen Trotman.

Charlotte Harris, director of conservation at Cheshire Wildlife Trust added: “As land managers with cattle at the heart of our conservation grazing strategy throughout the Cheshire region, the vaccination programme gives us a unique opportunity to explore how we can tackle this disease in a scientifically-led and sustainable way”.

The Wildlife Trusts are conscious of the impact this disease has on the farming community and the need to put the right measures in place to tackle it. To raise awareness of the difficulties of controlling bTB, Shropshire Wildlife Trust will host a forum in May where the latest policy and research will be presented to invited groups.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust was the first voluntary organisation to pay for the deployment of the BadgerBCG vaccine in 2011. In addition, Somerset and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trusts will vaccinate in the trial cull areas.

To find out more about Bovine TB and badgers see

Garden Party - Volunteers Needed

As part of Cheshire Wildlife Trust's 50th anniversary celebrations they will be hosting a Garden Open Day at Eaton Hall, Chester on Sunday 29th July by kind permission of the Duke of Westminster. Past events  have attracted in the region of 4000 visitors, and have proved to be very successful in raising money for charity. 

Due to the scale of the event Cheshire Wildlife Trust will require a large number of volunteers to make the day successful.  The key areas for volunteers are collecting money and issuing tickets on each of the gates and manning the two refreshment areas.  The event opens at 10.30 am to the public and closes at 5.00 pm. Therefore, volunteers could do 3 hours and then be relieved so that they can then enjoy walking around the gardens.  Would you be interested in supporting one of these areas? 

Please email Tracey at Cheshire Wildlife Trust if you would like to help.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Fairtrade Market Place

Heswall Hall will be hosting a Fairtrade Market Place on Saturday 24 March from 10 a.m. until about 4 p.m.
  • Stalls selling Fairtrade products, including Traidcraft, the Co-op and Tesco.
  • Fairtrade refreshments provided by Heswall’s Beacon cafĂ©.
  • Wine tasting and, we hope, chocolate.
  • Live music.
  • Announcement of winners of the Council’s Fairtrade Champions and the Ambassador to visit Ghana. Presentation of the awards by the Deputy Mayor between 11 a.m. and noon.

Monday 12 March 2012

From Ferries, a Fever Hospital and Open-air Bath to Ducks and Waders

by Mathilde Baker-Schommer with thanks to Simon Petris for the notes provided.

2012 is a double-jubilee year for Nature conservation in Wirral and Cheshire: it is 50 years since the Cheshire Conservation (now Wildlife) Trust was created, and 40 years of the Trust’s Wirral group being in existence.

The first event to celebrate this jubilee took place on 15th February. 15 people, including two children, braved the cold wind and assembled on the Shorefield grassland in New Ferry, to be welcomed by Hilary Ash.

There was no champagne, instead the event started with a fascinating talk about the past of the area by Simon Petris from New Ferry Local History Group. Simon illustrated his narrative with contemporary photographs, providing a glimpse into the life of previous generations in the area as well as how busy the Mersey was, now lying quietly before us.

The earliest reference to a boat service at New Ferry seems to be an advert in a Liverpool newspaper in 1774, stating that a coach would run from ‘The ferry’ by the shortest route to Chester every day, and return the same day. However, reference to a ferry was already made in 1379 in the court rolls of Lower Bebington, mentioning one Adam Del Fere (= of the ferry) without stating to which ferry he was connected.

The Quarantine Station for Liverpool in the early 18th century consisted of Lazarettos (old sailing hospital ships) moored in the Sloyne at Rock ferry. All ships arriving to Liverpool from foreign ports were compelled to drop anchor soon after entering the river. If any sickness had been observed on the ship, the captain had to hoist a yellow flag and sail as near as possible to the Lazarettos and drop anchor so that the port medical officer could inspect everybody on board.

In 1721 the Quarantine Station moved to Hoyle Lake but this soon became too small and silted for the numbers of ships coming to Liverpool, so the Lazarettos were eventually moved to the site at New Ferry. After many deaths on the hospital ships, the Port authorities decided to build a land-based Port Sanitary Isolation Hospital in 1875 at what is now known as ‘Shorefields’ in New ferry.  Access from the ships in the Mersey to the hospital was via a long low wooden jetty. Over 1,200 cases of tropical diseases were treated there, including cholera, smallpox, chickenpox and leprosy.  The hospital stood there for 88 years and was burned down in 1963 by the fire department with a controlled exercise to make sure none of the deadly pathogens would persist.

Following Simon’s explanations, the group went to view the hospital site and the plaque erected in remembrance of all who passed through the hospital, many only to leave after they had died.

Although more benign, the public open-air baths (of which there once were 11 in Wirral) also succumbed to the passing time, leaving hardly any traces. ‘New Ferry Open Air Swimming Baths’ was built by Bebington & Bromborough U.D.C. in 1932 at a cost of £12,000 as one of the most up-to-date baths in the Country. It was rectangular in shape and 330 feet long, 90 feet wide. The baths had a water capacity of 1,000,000 gallons of sea water drawn from the River Mersey. When it first opened, it had 80,000 visitors in the first two months. The baths closed in the 1970s.

After this journey into local history, attention switched to the non-human users of the area - the waterfowl that feed and roost in the sheltered bay at New Ferry. Often numerous duck can be seen on the water or, at low tide, loafing on the sand, pebbles and mud. Waders (also called Shore birds) do not swim and gather on the exposed sand and mud to feed or roost. The visit proved a little disappointing in this respect as bird numbers were small on that day. Although numerous Shelduck were seen feeding on tiny marine snails living in the mud, there were only few other birds present, among them some Curlew, Redshank and noisy Oystercatchers besides four species of Gull and two Pintail duck that flew past. The flock of Black-tailed godwit that had flown in earlier on had sadly left, leaving just 4 stragglers behind.

Ed Samuels explained that, until recently, large numbers of these northern visitors would spend the winter in Britain’s west-coast estuaries such as the Mersey and the Dee. However, with the generally milder winters, more of the birds appear now to stay on the eastern side of Britain.

Despite the small numbers, we all had good views of the birds present, through field glasses and telescopes. Bird behaviour is somewhat unpredictable, and a visit at low tide on another day could be more rewarding, presenting good numbers of Teal, Wigeon, Knot, Turnstone and of some of the 60,000 Dunlin that have still been counted on the Mersey’s intertidal mudflats.

The next guided visit will be on
Saturday 21st April at 2pm

Woodland management the traditional way - Thornton Common and Thornton Wood

See what hedge laying, coppicing, pollarding look like,
done by Wirral Countryside Volunteers.
Thornton Common is flat,
but Thornton Wood has steep slopes.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL ring 0151 327 5923.

Meet: Thornton Common, Thornton Common Road, Clatterbridge.
Grid ref: SJ323814 (adjacent to Wirral Rugby Club).
Some car parking by bridge over motorway.

Leaders: Paul Loughnane and
members of Wirral Countryside Volunteers.