Sunday 22 June 2014

Brimstones Breeding at Butterfly Park

Brimstone caterpillar camouflaged while feeding on Alder Buckthorn
at New Ferry Butterfly Park
Some great and encouraging news...

I have spotted Brimstone caterpillars of various sizes feeding on alder buckthorn, four of them on the alder buckthorn bank, just south of the calcareous meadow. There is another single caterpillar on the isolated alder buckthorn shrub at the end of the ditch at the upper level behind the garden, almost at the Brick Pit Coppice. Just look for leaf damage which can be considerable as the caterpillars will grow up to 3 cm long and at that stage will eat whole leaves. I am sure there are more to spot.

See the photograph above of a brimstone caterpillar at the park in the classic mid-rib position on the leaf. When at rest, the larva has a curious habit of lifting the front half of its body off the leaf. Already, 20 Brimstone Imagoes have been counted this spring, the most ever recorded at the park. The alder buckthorns were planted over a decade ago by 4th Bebington Scouts, St John’s New Ferry, so we have waited a long time for this.

It is great news for New Ferry Butterfly Park, as the adult male butterflies being bright yellow are highly conspicuous, being the longest lived British butterfly they have a long flight period, so there is a relatively good chance for visitors to the park to encounter them flying by at some speed, adding greatly to their experience.

This is the first time that we have been able to confirm that they are breeding at New Ferry Butterfly Park. Barry Shaw, Cheshire County Butterfly Recorder for the Cheshire and Peak branch of Butterfly Conservation said “Whilst I suspect that not too many contributors actually look for the early stages of Cheshire butterflies I have checked data going back to the year 2000 and this would seem to be the first confirmed breeding on the Wirral”.

Some of the smaller instars, may be big enough in a fortnight so that they can be stars of the show on the Insect Day guided walk on Sunday 29th June at 2 p.m.

So this is an interesting find for wardens to share with visitors. This is a first breeding record for the park and a first breeding record for Wirral.

Paul Loughnane

Friday 20 June 2014

Talk - Wildlife on your Doorstep

Burton Manor Gardens are hosting an evening talk entitled "Wildlife on your Doorstep".

It takes place on Wednesday 25th June at 7.30 p.m. at Burton Manor.

The cost is £7.50 for Friends of Burton Manor Gardens and £10 for non-Friends. This includes tea, soft drink and buffet supper.

Colin Wells and Lynne Greenstreet will talk about the wildlife that can be seen through the seasons at RSPB’s Burton Mere Wetlands Reserve.

For more information, please see this link: 
To book, phone Neil Johnstone on 0151 336 7332 or send an email

Payment can be made on the night.

Monday 2 June 2014

Gowy Meadows walk

 - Gowy Meadows - Andrew Walmsley

Sunday 15th June
Gowy Meadows Walk
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Gowy Meadows has an excellent variety of wildflowers and attracts several species of summer visiting birds. We’ll explore the mix of wildflowers grassland, wetlands, hedgerow and river bank habitats across the Cheshire Wildlife Trust largest nature reserve, on the lookout for raptors, warblers and newly fledged summer migrants.

After a wet spell it can be very muddy and boggy in places, so if there has been rain please wear suitable footwear.

Meet at Thornton Green Lane, CH2 4JH. Directions and map on the CWT website:

To book a place telephone Linda on 0151 342 1395.

Natterjacks at Red Rocks

The new scrapes at the CWT Red Rocks nature reserve have been a success. Male natterjack toads were heard calling and spawning took place. You can listen to a recording of their calls from April this year:

The pools now contain lots of tadpoles which hopefully will metamorphose and increase the population of toads.

For more information about the work being carried out by CWT, including an update on habitat management, see the news section on their website: New Home For Natterjacks