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.