Thursday 19 July 2012

Energy, Food and Economy

Wirral Environmental Network will be holding a presentation on the links between energy, food and the economy on July 26th at Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead from 1 to 2 p.m. Entry is free.

Cuttings from a Gardener's Diary

Cheshire Landscape Trust are hosting a talk by the former Head Gardener at Tatton Park, Sam Youd. It takes place on 9th October at Capesthorne Hall, near Macclesfield from 6 to 8 p.m.

For tickets telephone 01928 518018 or send an email.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Artist's Open Evening at Comma Shop

Artist Iain Broadley ends his residency at the Comma Project this week.

Come along to the Open Evening on Thursday 19th July at the shop at 66 Bebington Road, New Ferry.

Friday 13 July 2012

Red Rocks Walk

On yet another damp morning, only the hardy assembled for a walk from Red Rocks to West Kirby and back. But we were rewarded, as the weather cleared up and we were able to enjoy a wide range of plants, from the sand dunes to the salt marsh edge of the growing "Green Beach". A pool full of amphibians drew much interest, but we came to the conclusion they were all frogs and frog tadpoles. Natterjack toads were heard calling this spring, and some strings of spawn were sighted by the Ranger, Lynne Greenstreet.

They appear to be moving from the old scrapes into the new pools forming naturally in the Green Beach. Marsh orchids were just coming into flower near the old scrapes, and the group were intrigued by the rare hybrid horsetail, spectacular water dock, and a whitethroat in full view, singing merrily. These walks are supposed to last up to 2 hours - but this one lasted nearly 3!

Whitethroat. Photo: Wikipedia

Ecologists enjoy visit to Butterfly Park

On 27th June 2012, the North-west section of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM) paid a visit to New Ferry Butterfly Park. The 13 professional ecologists were from a range of backgrounds, including consultancies, public bodies and Landlife, whose wildflower seed has been used on the Park in the past (and are supplying all the plants for our 50th birthday plantings).

IEEM arrange a number of these events each year so ecologists and managers can see how other sites work, learn some new skills and ideas, and advise the hosts. We showed them how we manage an "Open Mosaic Habitat" site to keep it that way, with scything, mowing, stripping turf and coppicing trees. They enjoyed our art trail (something a little different for  a nature reserve) and heard about our educational work  - and the ownership fight. In fact, they were so impressed they couldn't think of anything else we should be doing - but one of them proved to be a bryophyte expert, who identified 14 mosses for us, starting our recording of that group (thank you, Diane). And Carl Clee caught and identified a solitary bee, and hopes to get back to find some more in future.

Afterwards the group moved on to Ness Gardens to look at the habitat creation work there in the lower gardens, where the soil inversion technique has been used to create a wildflower grassland, and other habitats are being developed around it. This project is still in its early stages, but do wander round when next at Ness.

Wildflower grassland at Ness Gardens.
Photo: Ecological Restoration Consultants Limited

Bumblebee Workshop

Workshop participants on Thurstaston beach

Carl Clee led a workshop on bumblebees and their lifestyles, with some straying into solitary bees and mining bees. The 6 or 7 common bumble bees are relatively easy to tell apart by their stripes, so hopefully we can all do them now.

There used to be 6 common ones - but the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) has spread spectacularly across England in the last decade, having colonised from the Continent, and now reached the Scottish border. It is early-flying, and there were plenty out in Wirral on those spring and early summer days when it was not driving rain. On the other hand, the formerly common Garden Bumblebee seems to be declining, along with many of its rarer cousins. Records from volunteers are very important in tracking changes like this.

After lunch, the group went looking for bees along the bottom of the clay cliffs at Thurstaston. Despite cool weather and a sharp shower just beforehand, a reasonable number of bumbles were found, including new queens of 2 species. Mining bee holes were seen in the cliffs - but their inhabitants had decided to rest in the warm and were not flying.

Garden Bumblebee. Photo: Wikipedia

The weather is proving very difficult for all flying insects this year, and the bats and birds which depend on them. Let us know if you see good nunbers of bumblebees anywhere!

Monday 9 July 2012

Moss Graffiti Workshop

Come along on Sunday 15th July to the Moss Graffitti workshop at the Comma Project shop - 66 Bebington Road, New Ferry -  from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Learn how to make the mixture, then, in the afternoon - start painting!

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Sea Watch Events

Katrin Lohrengel is the Regional Coordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation in the North West. Sea Watch is a national marine conservation charity that works in close partnership with the public to study and conserve UK cetaceans. One of her aims is to set up a sightings network of reliable observers to improve coverage of the North West. She is looking for people to participate and organise land based cetacean watches throughout the year but also just to submit casual sightings.

Katrin says "Apart from expanding the sightings network, the main event every year is the National Whale and Dolphin Watch,  an annual event, this year taking place on the 27th to 29th July where we try and get out as many observers as possible around the UK to get a snapshot of UK cetaceans. The participation in the North West has traditionally been quite poor and I am looking to improve that this year, so the more people we have that are happy to participate, the better!"

These are the watches scheduled to take place in the North West at the moment but there are definitely going to be some in Cumbria and probably at least another one each day around the Wirral (potentially Hilbre). People can come to as long as they like, there is no obligation to stay the entire time period, although at least an hour is recommended.

Friday 27th July - New Brighton Promenade. 3 - 7 p.m.
Saturday 28th July - New Brighton Promenade. 3 - 7 p.m.
Sunday 29th July - New Brighton Promenade. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Friday 27th July - Mirror Ball, New South Promenade. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Saturday 28th July - Jubilee Gardens, Gynn Square. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Sunday 29th July - Princes Promenade, Anchorsholme. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Monday 30th July to Friday 3rd August - Mirror Ball, New South Promenade. 12 noon - 1 p.m.

There will also be some training sessions on the 22nd and 23rd July to run through the forms and give people some more information on what to look out for when they are on land watch.

If you want to get a bit more background on what's going on, you can read about it on and you can also follow Katrin on Twitter - @NWcetaceans

Footpath Clearance Days - July to October

Copyright Raymond Knapman and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
Signpost on the Wirral Way to the Dungeon, Thurstaston

As always I am grateful for any assistance regarding the cutting and trimming of the Wirral Public Right Of Way network. Work parties take place on the following dates which are all Thursdays, 10am – 1pm at the following locations:

5th - Lower Thingwall Lane, Thingwall.
19th - The Beacons, Heswall. Meet in car park in Beacon Lane, accessed from Telegraph Road. 
26th - Old Grange Road, Grange Hill.

9th - Royden Park. Meet in main car park near Rangers Office.
16th - Caldy Hill. Meet Kings Drive / Thorsway

6th - Bidston Hill. Meet Tam O’Shanter Farm Car Park.
13th - Thurstaston Common. Meet Telegraph Road Car Park.
20th - Crossway, Raby. 
27th - Brimstage paths - Talbot Ave / Brimstage Road.

4th - FP43 to Dungeon Wood. Park opposite Thurstaston Church.
11th - Thingwall, Lower Thingwall Lane.

Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Thanks and regards,

Robin Tutchings, Wirral Rights Of Way Officer.
Tel: 0151 606 2480. Mobile: 07795 367 276.