Friday 28 March 2014

Get Ready, Set and Sow

Volunteers sowing a cornfield annual mix to provide temporary colour
and nectar sources in Charlie’s Field, New Ferry Butterfly Park. Photo: Hilary Ash

Thanks to all the members and public who voted for the Love Wirral Grant to create a kaleidoscope of flowers on the railway embankment at New Ferry Butterfly Park.

The project application was successful and there will be a public Love Wirral event on Sunday April 13th, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.  It is a great opportunity to expand the array of native wildflowers for bees and butterflies along the park’s railway embankment. This will be achieved by planting 150 Primrose, 50 Red Campion and 50 Greater Stitchwort plants. Following on from the blue haze of the established Bluebells, this project will add flashes of yellow and white in late spring and in summer a flash of red producing a kaleidoscope of colour. This will provide extra nectar sources throughout the spring and summer seasons giving butterflies a great energy boost to keep them flying. The embankment will be periodically coppiced to maintain the area for these perennial flowering plants of the woodland and to enable butterflies to use the flowers.

The Kaleidoscope of flowers will be seen by Merseyrail passengers as the trains run by the embankment, subtly advertising the park. A holly hedge will be planted along part of the park’s boundary, which will add to the country feel of the park and to the successful future breeding of Holly Blue butterflies. In addition there will be Betony to plant into the lime waste grassland and Hemp Agrimony into the freshly dug ditches. Also let’s not forget the hungry caterpillar. Sheep’s Sorrel will be planted for the caterpillar of the Small Copper butterfly. Trowels will be provided. 

The park’s regular volunteers will be down at the park from 9.30 a.m. doing some necessary planting preparation work and general tidying up of the park.  You are welcome to join in any time during the day.

Paul Loughnane BEM

Thursday 20 March 2014

Job Opportunity - Membership Recruiter

Membership Recruiter
Salary: Competitive commission-based
Closing date: Monday 21st April 2014
Location: Across the Cheshire region
Job ref: D2D2014

Are you passionate about wildlife? Are you looking to earn some extra money on evenings and weekends? Why not join our membership recruiter team?

The Trust is looking for two additional Membership Recruiters to help in our ongoing campaign to increase membership. The work involves calling on the public (house-calling) and leaving information - no selling is involved. This way of recruiting supporters has been used successfully by the Trust for a number of years.

The work involves calling on the public in selected areas of the county - usually near to where the Recruiter lives. Where an interest is shown, information is left. After two days the Recruiter returns and, where the person wishes to join, a membership form is completed. Recruiters work part-time hours, usually in the evenings, to fit in around other commitments and are remunerated through a competitive commission-based system.

This area of the Trust’s fundraising is co-ordinated by an external agency AE Fundraising, which provides full initial and on-going training and support.

To find out more please contact Austin Morley (Marketing and Membership Officer) at the Trust on 01948 820728 or by email. Interviews will be held at the Trust’s headquarters.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Prince’s Trust make the park fit for Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside

New Ferry Butterfly Park has benefited from a week-long facelift thanks to a nine-strong team from the Prince’s Trust – just in time for a visit from the Lord Lieutenant.

The 16-25 year-olds lent a hand at the Butterfly Park, clearing vegetation including the troublesome non-native two-flowered honeysuckle that has smothered plants crucial to the park’s brightly coloured residents. Although not defeated yet, their persistence means it has been severely depleted and there will be further backup removal work on the regular Butterfly Park workdays. Removal of the two-flowered honeysuckle will give space for more flowers to benefit butterflies.

One day the team cut and bundled up 106 hedging stakes for use on a hedge laying project on the Wirral Way, Thurstaston. Luckily the Prince’s Trust team were also on hand when a large elder tree was blown over in recent high winds and with their assistance it was rapidly cleared up.

Around one in five young people in the UK are not in work, education or training. The Prince’s Trust runs a 12 week Team Programme where 16-25 year olds get involved in personal development activities to help them improve their teamwork, community and employability skills. For the community project aspect of the programme, New Ferry Butterfly Park was fortunate to be selected by the young people themselves. There were nine eager participants and two supervisors who were onsite for seven workdays, despite the heavy rain every time they came. This particular team is a collaboration between Wirral Metropolitan College and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, and the partnership is due to continue, ensuring future opportunities for the young adults of Bromborough and the surrounding areas.

"The Prince’s Trust re-exposed an old railway siding, which was first cleared 15 years ago, uncovering railway sleepers and metal chairs which held the railway track. This makes more of the Park’s railway heritage. It is hoped to establish sheep’s sorrel in acidic ballast between the railway sleepers for the benefit of small copper butterflies” enthused Paul Loughnane BEM, honorary reserve manager of the Park. “We saw the development of team work as they became more proficient with tasks as the project moved along.”

Thank you very much to The Prince’s Trust Team, and especially their supervisors Maria Talbot from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and Faith Everest from Wirral Metropolitan College for inspiring the team. At the end of all this hard work the participants demonstrated further teamwork by hosting a celebratory event at the park with the Lt Col Sean McEvoy BEM, the Clerk of the Merseyside Lieutenancy. He was checking the park out for a visitation on Sunday 4th of May of Dame Lorna Muirhead, Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside. Dame Lorna will mark the start of summer Sunday afternoon opening of the park, unfurling a new accolade for the park and after this enjoy all the family fun activities and stalls held especially to celebrate the first open day of the season.

For the celebratory handover event, Prince’s Trust participants spoke about their experience of the project and what they gained.
 “I enjoyed helping to maintain the park and improving my team work skills. I thought the team worked well through the bad weather and what was a seemingly impossible task”, said Jack Wilson, one of the team members. This was followed by a tour of the park, visitors and supporters were shown what the young people had achieved and then finished off with tea and homemade cakes. We hope some of the Prince’s Trust participants come back to enjoy the park in the summer to see the results of their works; the inspiring grasslands full of flowers bees and butterflies.

Monday 3 March 2014

Underground Coal Gasification in the Dee Estuary

Readers may have heard of the possibility of coal gasification of the beds under the Dee Estuary, which has the potential to be very damaging to the wildlife of the Dee. We will obviously oppose any planning application, on grounds of damage to wildlife, and on the general grounds that, to avoid climate change catastrophic to people and wildlife, we need to leave a substantial proportion of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, and risky ones like this should be the first to be left alone.

Wirral Wildlife belong to The Dee Estuary Conservation Group, which is an umbrella body for a number of environmental organisation concerned with the Dee Estuary. The DECG is investigating this as a group and will undoubtedly oppose any planning application that is made. Richard Smith runs the Dee Estuary Birding website and is just about to retire as long-standing secretary of DECG. He has written a short article about coal gasification in the March newsletter on the Dee Estuary website. It explains the national and (vitally) international protection that is now enjoyed by the Dee Estuary, which means that proposals for gasification would have to go through many hoops, including European and international (Ramsar) bodies.

So it could not happen easily of quickly or without a lot of publicity. Should it get to a planning application, we would of course we looking for as many people as possible to object.

Meanwhile, please do your bit to counter the perceived "need" for this by the things we all need to do: reducing our own energy consumption, insulating houses, upgrading heating systems, moving energy supplier to one which supplies as much renewable energy as possible, and lobbying our politicians to make them realise that climate change is happening, is in large part due to human activity, and that we all need to tackle it. That must include renewable electricity generation as well as energy conservation - but we do examine all planning applications for harm to existing wildlife. Do contact your MP about this.

For more information on climate change, see (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

How we in Britain can change the way we get and use energy:

Dr Hilary J Ash
Hon Conservation Officer
Wirral Wildlife

Saturday 1 March 2014

The Fishing Fox

Tony Ormond is an excellent local birder and a bird-ringer, who lives on Bidston Hill and regularly watches birds all over the Bidston Moss area. One day recently he was watching birds on the lake, with a long lens on his camera, when he spotted a fox on an old pallet, floating near the edge of the water. The fox proceeded to catch a fish and run off with it. Has anyone else met a fishing fox?