Thursday 22 December 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Plant Hunt

We hope that you enjoy a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

As an antidote to the festivities why not get out between 1st and 4th January and join in with the New Year Plant Hunt.

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland want to record which wild plants are in bloom at New Year.

Visit their website for more information about taking part and how to record your finds:

Friday 16 December 2016

Green Grass Gas

A renewable energy company has submitted a planning application to generate energy from grass on sites where fracking is planned in Lancashire. Ecotricity propose two green gas mills. Species rich grass grown on farmland would be harvested and undergo anaerobic digestion to produce renewable gas for heating buildings. They claim this process would cut carbon emissions, help create wildlife habitats, improve soils if grass is grown in rotation with food crops and provide income for farmers. The company is hoping to provide an alternative form of renewable energy and provide a viable alternative to fracking.

For more information see the Ecotricity website:

Thursday 15 December 2016

Treemendous Re-growth

Matt Allmark surprised by the regrowth
of the hazel coppice at the Butterfly Park.
Photo: Paul Loughnane

Matt Allmark, Cheshire Wildlife Trust Reserve Officer West, visited New Ferry Butterfly Park with his two beloved hairy companions Stan and Poppy. Matt primarily came to carry out a tool inspection, to see if the tools passed muster, which they did admirably. Whilst at the park he carried out a tree inspection and found two suspect roadside willow trunks which will be dealt with over the winter season.

Following a tour around the site he was (and looked) astounded at the regrowth of the hazel stools in Brick Pit Coppice. The tallest re-growths were over two metres in height and shoots from the stools which only started emerging this May. That is nearly an average growth rate of 30cm a month! This is a reflection of the nutrient rich ground, the coppice being developed on an in-filled brick pit, the fact that this is a simple i.e. a coppice that has no large trees above the stools to shade them and that the stools are well established being in their third in cycle coppice cut. The coppice crop of hedging stakes has increased with each subsequent cut with 400 stakes being cut in January and February this year.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Trees on TV

The Bowthorpe Oak. Photo: Julian Hight, Woodland Trust

On Saturday 17th December at 8 p.m. a television programme will be devoted to finding the ‘Tree of the Year’. The judges on this Channel 4 programme will be able to vote for one of four trees chosen from each of the four nations. The competition is organised by the Woodland Trust and is designed to raise awareness of British trees, many species of which are under threat.

Which tree will win? Could it be the elm from Sheffield, the Bowthorpe Oak (over 1000 years old) in Lincolnshire, the ‘Sycamore Gap’ tree near Hadrian’s Wall or the ‘Ding Dong’ tree in a primary school near Edinburgh?

To see all the shortlisted trees and read the full details visit the Woodland Trust website:

Thursday 8 December 2016

Nature Nativity

Some ‘crafty’ members of the committee rose to the challenge of creating a nativity scene that reflected our wildlife interests. St. David’s United Reform Church, Eastham will be displaying our ‘Nature Nativity’ along with others created by local groups and businesses on Saturday December 17th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Do go along and see how we fashioned our scene using conkers, cones, leaves, acorns and feathers. See if you can find the snail shell.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Prince Helps A Young Lady

For those who do not know, Prince Charles is the patron of the National Hedge Laying Society and an able cutter himself. Some time ago HRH invited some conservation volunteers to lay hedges on one of his estates. He knows his hedges and was disappointed with the result. The skill base had become diluted. To remedy this Prince Charles has put forward some incentives for young people taking up the call and becoming involved in hedge laying. He has offered those under 30 years old taking part in novice competition or undergoing training a £25 bonus for taking part. This award is administered by the National Hedge Laying Society.

We are pleased to announce one of the Wirral Countryside Volunteers, Jessica Lindsey (pictured with her own work), was given such an award for taking part in Wirral Countryside Volunteer’s 11th free hedge laying training event, Cheshire style, which took place at Poulton Hall, Bebington.

Jessica said “It is amazing to be recognised by the National Hedge Laying Society and a great encouragement. I enjoy my days out with the volunteers they are so welcoming and happy to share their expertise.” Jessica added “I plan to join the National Hedgelaying Society using my award money.” 

Paul Loughnane

Thursday 24 November 2016

Helping Hands at Cleaver Heath

On Tuesday Cheshire Wildlife Volunteer Coordinator Kevin Feehey brought a group of volunteers to Cleaver Heath. They were a great help in removing bracken litter from an area which we hope eventually to restore as heathland. They were from the Chester office of Ramboll (UK) which is a large engineering consultant organisation.

The weather was a bit grey but they enjoyed the day out. The team were part of the company's ecological section. The UK company are the lead engineers on the Queensferry Crossing (new Forth Bridge) and the new one across the Mersey near Widnes!

Alan Irving

Monday 14 November 2016

Volunteer Award for Steve Yandell

Steve receiving his award. Photo: Hilary Ash

Steve Yandell was presented with the Eric Thurston Award at New Ferry Butterfly Park this Sunday. The award is presented by Cheshire Wildlife Trust to the most inspirational and outstanding volunteers.

Steve has volunteered on average 3 times a month at New Ferry Butterfly Park and Thornton Wood for the last 10 years. An experienced, can-do person who is always ready to work hard himself, he also willingly shares his knowledge with novices and encourages participation. We are very fortunate to have a volunteer of his calibre.

Cutting the celebration cake. Photo: Hilary Ash

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Become a Citizen Scientist

Can you spare some time between 13th and 17th November to look for signs of lugworm reproduction on the beach. The Marine Conservation Society want to find out when the lugworm, Arenicola marina, breeds in the UK.

As the worms spend most of their lives buried in the sand the males release sperm which collect as ‘puddles’ on the surface of the sand. The incoming tide washes this into the burrows of the females to fertilise their eggs.

Two people spending 10 minutes on this survey can provide vital information to help scientists work out what environmental factors may trigger spawning.

For full details of how to conduct the survey and where to send your results see:

Saturday 5 November 2016

Extreme Weather Impacts Butterfly Numbers

Small Tortoiseshell butterflies
We  have recently highlighted the falls in butterfly numbers recorded both nationally and at New Ferry Butterfly Park.

A recently published study in the Journal of Animal Ecology analysed data which had been collected from 1800 sites over 37 years for the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Climate change affects ecosystems but short term spells of bad weather also have a damaging impact on butterfly populations. It appears that heavy rainfall during the cocoon stage is damaging but even worse problems are caused by higher than normal temperatures during ‘over-wintering’. If butterflies or caterpillars emerge too early they may then be killed by temperatures turning colder again.

Monday 24 October 2016

Become a Friend of Muddy Marine Conservation Zones

Mud habitats in the Irish Sea are home to diverse communities of marine life but these undersea landscapes have already been damaged, fish stocks have declined and species are at risk.

To protect our seas, the UK Government are designating a network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) – areas of seabed where marine wildlife and habitats are protected. The Wildlife Trusts will be working hard to ensure the third and final round of sites is ambitious enough to give our seas the protection they deserve. But we need your help.

Please join our growing team of ‘Friends of muddy Marine Conservation Zones’ and help to ensure our marvellous mud gets the protection it needs.

Become a Friend of muddy Marine Conservation Zones to:

Get email updates to find out more about our mud campaign and our local and regional work to help save marine habitats and wildlife in the Irish Sea
Get guidance on how to respond to the third and final consultation on MCZs in 2017 and ensure your voice is heard
Get additional updates from your local Wildlife Trust

Saturday 22 October 2016

Gardening for Wildlife!

Gardening for Wildlife week runs from 24–30 October 2016 

Find out how you can help wildlife in the garden.

Plant your very own bat feast, snap some shots of it and enter the photo competition.

 All the details can be found at

Friday 21 October 2016

Fall In Butterfly Numbers

Brimstone Butterfly. Photo: H. Krisp, Wikipedia

The butterfly species and numbers recorded at New Ferry Butterfly Park reflect national data and show how dismally butterflies have fared this year.

Even the normally robust Speckled Wood numbers were dramatically reduced, only 66 recorded compared with 199 in 2014 and 79 in 2015. Only a few species, like Green Veined White and Holly Blue, held their own. The Brimstone butterfly had a good year, with 35 recorded compared with 33 in 2014 but only 18 in 2015.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Port Sunlight River Park - October Events

Thursday 20th October
Annual General Meeting

7 - 8.30 p.m.
All welcome

Old School Room, The Lyceum, Port Sunlight, CH62 4UJ

Saturday 29th October
Batty About Bats

1.30 - 3.30 p.m.

Family friendly bat themed craft activities and refreshments.

Meet at site office, Mersey View picnic area, CH62 4LN

For more information contact Ranger Anne Litherland by email or telephone 07587 550060.

Thursday 13 October 2016

The Big Butterfly Count 2016 - The Results

The results of The Big Butterfly Count 2016 have been released.

Species results and more information for 2016 can be found at

While the long-term trends of butterflies and moths tend to result from human activities such as habitat destruction and climate change, short-term changes, from year to year, butterfly generation to generation, are typically caused by natural factors such as the weather and populations of parasites. So, in cold, wet summers, such as in 2012, butterfly populations often crash, while in good summers, such as 2013, they bounce back.

The results of big butterfly count 2016, however, don't fit this pattern. It was a pretty good summer, with above average temperatures and yet butterflies on the whole fared badly.

The average number of individual insects of the 20 target species seen per 15 minute count was the lowest recorded since the project began in 2010! A mere 12.2 individuals per count were recorded, down from 13.4 per count in 2015, 14.7 in 2014 and a whopping 23 per count in 2013.

Over half of the big butterfly count target species decreased in 2016 compared with the previous year e.g. Small Copper, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, however. Seven species were counted in greater numbers than during big butterfly count 2015 e.g. Red Admiral, Green-veined White showed an increase.

(Did you notice a lack of butterflies? We certainly noticed that there were very few caterpillars on our vegetables. Good for our crop but not for the butterflies. It will be interesting to see the 2016 count for New Ferry Butterfly Park).

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Biology Week 2016: Vote For Your Favourite UK Mammal

This year a coalition of over 50 wildlife organisations completed a stock take of our native wildlife. The resulting State of Nature 2016 report concluded that it is not too late to save UK nature, but if we are to do so then we must act now. Over half of the species examined in the report have declined since 1970, while more than one in 10 species are at risk of extinction.

This Biology Week, the Royal Society of Biology is asking you to choose your favourite mammal to raise awareness of their conservation needs. There are a total of 101 different species of mammal in and around the UK. Alongside The Mammal Society and People's Trust for Endangered Species this was narrowed down to a top 10 and now it's over to you to choose the UK's favourite mammal.

Choose from water vole, red squirrel, bottlenose dolphin, Scottish wildcat, otter, soprano pipistrelle, beaver, pine martin, hedgehog or fox.

Friday 7 October 2016

Cheshire Style Hedge Laying Debut at the National

Evenly pleached Cheshire hedge at Poulton Hall, Bebington.
Photo: Paul Loughnane

Who can think of the lowland Cheshire landscape without thinking of a network of oak lined hedgerows, dairy cattle and marl pits? Cheshire hedgerows are slowly declining, not so much being removed but mainly by neglect and repeated flailing which overcomes the hardiest of hedgerow plants, hawthorn. Hedges can be restored whilst keeping their boundary function by laying them, cutting the upright stems and bending them over to form an impenetrable living fence. The principle is easy but the practice is more complicated than it first seems. Skill is required to create a well-constructed and flowing hedge. Cutting the stems thin enough so the hedge regrows from the base but not so thinly that the stem dies is the trick. If you are interested in hedge laying there is a great opportunity to see the best cutters in country performing the art of hedge laying locally.

On Saturday 22nd October the National Hedge Laying Championship is coming to Cheshire for the first time ever and to stimulate local interest they have a debut Cheshire class of hedge laying. As well as Cheshire style hedge laying there will be nine other regional styles of hedge laid, all cut from the same hedgerow.

The regional hedge laying styles reflect the livestock to be retained, the terrain and climate of these regions. Cheshire laid hedges are one of the thinnest styles being used for turning dairy cattle. Laying hedges looks radical but restores the hedgerow from the base. It is a very modest fee to see such a national event, £5 a car; an incentive to car share. There will be a countryside show too. So share a car load and bring along your friends and make this Cheshire event a great success.

A week before the national event, on Friday 14th there will be an illustrated talk about hedge laying and the national competition at Heswall Hall at approximately 8pm, following the Wirral Wildlife Group AGM. So, if you would like to know what a hedge laying judge may be looking at come along and find out. It will make more of your day at the national championships.

Paul Loughnane

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Thank you Mike!

Mike Maher (second from left) with the rest of the
Wirral Wildlife committee at Cleaver Heath.
Photo: Ron Thomas

Wirral Wildlife will shortly mark the retirement from the committee of Mike Maher, who has been engaged in active conservation in Wirral since 1995. He has been our Voluntary Warden of Cleaver Heath for many years where he has implemented the Management Plan as required by Natural England. Cleaver Heath is a lowland heath which is a rare habitat in England as many have been lost to agriculture or other development.

We have been most fortunate in having the service of such a dedicated, knowledgeable and engaging person who has gathered a group of like-minded volunteers around him who regularly attend monthly task days, plus his additional input of every Sunday morning. He is a keen birder who has contributed to the Cheshire Bird Atlas and who has led annual Dawn Chorus and other guided walks around Cleaver and Heswall Dales. He is a great gardener who, over the years, has produced thousands of fine specimens for us to sell at our annual plant sale. He helped at events such as Apple Day and when we have had stalls at Ness Gardens. He has been an effective and much valued committee member. Some years ago he received the Eric Thurston Award for outstanding service to Cheshire WT. We will miss him for his expertise and dry wit and he departs with our best wishes.

Mike will still be contributing to the group’s work but will be succeeded as Voluntary Warden of Cleaver Heath by Alan Irving who has assisted Mike for some years and we also express our grateful thanks to him and all the volunteers.

Friday 30 September 2016

Environment Day at Wirral Arts Festival

Monday 3 October is Environment Day at Heswall Hall in Wirral Arts Festival, and marks the UN's World Habitat Day.

Wirral Wildlife is involved in an afternoon event “Local Concerns, Global Responsibilities” at which we will have a stall and give a short talk on the work of our group.

The event runs from 1:30 to 5:00pm - admission is free.

Please come along, and tell your friends about it!

To see information about the rest of the day, see the Wirral Arts Festival website:

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Vote For Tree of the Year

The Woodland Trust are asking people to cast their votes for the Tree of The Year 2016.

The winning tree will benefit from a “Tree LC” care grant of £1,000. Plus all runner-up trees that receive more than 1,000 votes will be eligible for a grant of £500. The grant can be used to arrange a tree health check or advice from an arboriculturalist, provide interpretation or educational materials or simply just hold a celebratory event in honour of the tree.

Each country’s winning Tree of the Year will go on to represent that nation in the European Tree of the Year competition, organised by the Environmental Partnership Association.

Winners will be revealed later this year.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Transition Town West Kirby - October Events

Thursday 6th October 7 p.m.
'The 11th Hour'

Film showing and discussion.
Free entry, but donations welcome to cover the costs. Bar, tea and coffee available.

Incredible Edible

More volunteers are needed to maintain the Incredible Edible planters. If you would like to join in please ring 07724 175779 or 625 9974 to find out more.

The Community Orchard in Grange Cemetery is maintained jointly by Incredible Edibles and Friends of Grange Community Park, in regular sessions on the second Saturday of every month from 3 - 4 p.m. and the fourth Friday of the month at 10 - 11 a.m. Note the new meeting point at the Scout Hut at the Lang Lane entrance to Grange Cemetery. Planned maintenance dates are:

Saturday 8th October 3 - 4 p.m.
Friday 28th October 10 - 11 a.m.

Sunday 23rd October 10.30 a.m. - 2 p.m. (approx)
Fungus Foray

A guided walk with herbalist Jesper Launder.

Discover the fungi on Caldy Hill and find out what's edible and what's not. Followed by mushrooms on toast!

Suggested donation of £12.50 per head to cover costs. Numbers limited, so early booking advised by email.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Seal Cam

Grey seal pup at South Walney Nature Reserve.
Photo: Lindsey Dickings/NW Evening Mail

The Cumbria Wildlife Trust have installed a seal cam at their South Walney Nature Reserve

You can view the live stream here:

See if you are lucky enough to spot a grey seal!

Autumn Activities at Port Sunlight River Park

Events continue at Port Sunlight River Park this autumn with health walks and volunteer sessions taking place each week.

Health Walks
Tuesdays 10.30 - 11.30 a.m.
This friendly group meet every Tuesday for a variety of walks, some easy and flat, all led by trained leaders. The walks range from 30 minutes to one hour. The walk is free but we have a drink together afterwards for which donations are welcome. Please arrive at the Dock Road North car park about 10 minutes early on your first walk to register.

Health Walks
Wednesdays 5.30 - 6.30 p.m.
This friendly group meet on summer evenings every week from April to October for a variety of walks, some easy and flat, all led by trained leaders. The walks range from 30 minutes to one hour. The walk is free. Please arrive at the Dock Road North car park about 10 minutes early on your first walk to register.

Volunteer Sessions
Wednesday and Saturday
10 a.m. - 12 noon and 1 - 3 p.m.
To find out more about these sessions contact the Ranger, Anne Litherland, by phone on 07587 550060 or email

Forest Church at New Ferry Butterfly Park

Photo: Richard Ash

In a first for New Ferry Butterfly Park, local churches recently held a "Forest Church" session there. Many Christians find it helpful to worship God outdoors, linking to God through His natural world. It is also a time to pray for all life, and encourage people to look after the natural world better. This first session (for us) was blessed with sunshine, bees and butterflies. It was organised by Hilary Ash's church (St David's URC, Eastham), but attended by people from a wide variety of local churches. We plan to do something similar again - but the next one will be at St Mary's Eastham (20 November, 3 p.m.), so we have cover if the weather is cold!