Friday 29 January 2016

The Gigantic Grass Quiz

Test your knowledge of grasses by seeing how many of the species you can identify in this quiz:

Thursday 28 January 2016

Woodchip and Compost for sale

We are starting to tidy up New Ferry Butterfly Park ready for this year's chipping at the start of March. We currently have for sale:
  • about 12 bags of 2-year old woodchip, suitable for filling raised beds.
  • a pile of 1-year old woodchip, only a small amount bagged up, suitable for mulching, paths, etc.
  • about 2 cubic metres of compost from our compost boxes - will not be very rich in nutrients, but a good soil improver. I used it in our raised beds at St David's church, Eastham successfully. There is some bagged up but most is still in the compost box and needs digging out.
"Bags" are old potting compost bags etc, which we fill about three-quarters depending on how heavy the material is, so as to be lift-able into cars. We ask 50p per bag. Larger amounts we will agree a reasonable price. Currently we have run out of any old ones hanging around people's gardens are gratefully received.

Please contact me by email

Hilary Ash,
Hon Conservation Officer New Ferry Butterfly Park

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Botanical Society Plant Hunt

Two of our members took part in the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) New Year Plant Hunt. Wildflower enthusiasts across Britain and Ireland headed out to see what was in bloom in their local patch.

Red Campion: an "Autumn Straggler"
Photo: Lliam Rooney

More than 850 plant-lovers spent up to three hours between 1st and 4th January hunting for wild plants in flower:

A total of 8,568 records of plants in flower from across Britain and Ireland.
A stunning 612 different species were found to be in flower, compared to 368 last year.
We received more than 400 lists - around half of them contained 20 or more species.

Ryan Clark, who co-ordinated the New Year Plant Hunt, said “It was astonishing to see so many records flooding in, from Guernsey to Shetland and Norfolk to Donegal. As expected, the milder south and west of Britain had the highest numbers of species still in flower, but we also had more than 60 species reported blooming in Edinburgh. Lists from Ireland also had consistently high numbers of plants in flower at New Year”.

Do the numbers of plants flowering this New Year herald an early spring? 

BSBI’s Head of Science Dr Kevin Walker said “There does not seem to be any real indication of an early spring. Spring-flowering specialists, such as Lesser Celandine, Cow Parsley and Sweet Violet, were widely recorded but they make up less than a fifth of the total. At least three quarters of the plants recorded were ‘Autumn Stragglers’ like Yarrow, Red Campion and Red Dead-nettle that had carried on flowering in the absence of a hard frost. The two most commonly recorded plants were Daisy and Dandelion – which we would expect to be flowering at this time of year. Perhaps more surprising was Hawthorn in bloom!"

Hawthorn in bloom
Photo: Marc Cruise

612 species in flower represents about a quarter of the species that occur regularly in Britain and Ireland. A number of these are aliens from warmer climates that may have escaped from gardens or cultivation and are continuing to flower until winter frosts knock them back.

As in previous years, urban areas tended to have more species in flower than rural areas. This is to be expected: there are more sheltered and disturbed areas with warm micro-climates where native and alien plants, including garden escapes, can thrive.

Kevin said “Conventional wisdom on what should flower when is clearly out of date, and for many alien plants we simply don’t have good data on peak flowering times. The New Year Plant Hunt results will help provide an up-to-date picture of what’s going on. Many thanks to all the volunteers who contributed to New Year Plant Hunt 2016”.

Saturday 16 January 2016

Bird Feeding and Watching at the River Park

Next weekend, why not visit Port Sunlight River Park to make bird feeders or join a Bird Watching Walk to help you take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch this month.

Saturday 23rd January
1 - 2.30 p.m.
Bird Feeders
Meet at the Port Sunlight River Park site office at Mersey View car park.
Make bird food and a variety of bird feeders.
Suitable for families and children aged 3 and over.

Sunday 24th January
9.30 - 11 a.m.
Bird Watching Walk
Meet at Dock Road North car park.
Bring binoculars and wear warm clothing.
Sorry no dogs.

For more information about either of these events contact Anne Litherland, ranger, by email or telephone 07587 550060.

Saturday 9 January 2016

A New Year at the River Park

If you would like to be more active in 2016, Port Sunlight River Park hold weekly activities to help you.

Tuesday Health Walk
10.30 - 11.30 a.m.

Meet at Dock Road North car park for a short walk with trained leaders. There are a variety of routes to suit beginners and those wanting a longer walk of up to an hour. After which we will have a hot drink in the site office. The walk is free but a donation is welcome for the drink. Please come 10 minutes early for your first walk to register or register online at

Wednesday and Saturday Volunteer Sessions
10 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 - 3 p.m.
Contact Anne Litherland by email or telephone on 07587 550060.

Friday Cycle with Sustrans
2.30 p.m.
Contact Janet by email or telephone on 07500 559669.

Saturday 2 January 2016

January 2016 events

Happy New Year!

Here are some events to look forward to this month.

Burbo Bank Windfarm as seen from New Brighton.
Photo: Darren Hillman, Flickr.
Ken Neal will give a talk on the subject of
offshore windfarms on 8th January

Sunday 3rd January 2016
Removal of Variegated Yellow Archangel
Thornton Wood, Clatterbridge
9.30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Variegated yellow archangel, a garden escape, will be removed from the southern tip of the wood to prevent its spread. This plant out competes native ancient woodland ground flora.
Stout footwear and waterproofs recommended. Bring a packed lunch.
Free of charge.
Contact: Paul Loughnane by email or telephone 0151 645 8937.

Sunday 3rd January
Cleaver Heath Workday
Meet Oldfield Road, Heswall at 10 a.m.
Stout footwear and waterproofs recommended, and volunteers should bring a packed lunch if staying for the whole session, which ends between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Further details from Mike Maher, email or telephone 0151 342 4249.

Friday 8th January
‘The Ecology of Offshore Wind Farms’
Room B, Heswall Hall, Heswall
7.30 p.m.
A talk by Ken Neal.
Admission £3. All welcome.

Sunday 10th January
Scything in Charlie’s Field and Keeping The Hedgerows In Trim
New Ferry Butterfly Park
9.30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
This will be building on last year’s project when the area was cleared to bring the field under management for the benefit of butterflies. Keeping the hedgerows in trim and gaining a few hedge stakes from the hedgerow’s hazel stools. Emptying the upper compost bin so that it can be divided for more efficient composting.
Stout footwear and waterproofs recommended. Bring a packed lunch.
Free of charge.
Contact: Paul Loughnane by email or telephone 0151 645 8937.
Public transport available - the Park is next to Bebington Train Station. Map of location.