Monday 27 February 2017

Foxes on Hilbre Island

Photo: Hilbre Archive

The first fox recorded on Hilbre was given to the then keeper, Lewis Jones, as a pet by a Canadian sea captain of his acquaintance at the end of the 19th century. The fox lived in a dog kennel in Mr Jones’s garden.

The next record was of a wild fox that arrived on the island at a late stage of the incoming tide in 1922. Mr Jones was still the keeper, although he did retire in 1923, and he and Mr J.Thompson, who also lived on the island, were very surprised to see the animal, as records of foxes anywhere in the north Wirral were unusual before the Second World War.

Mr Thompson produced a pistol and fired several shots at the creature before it took to the sea at the south end of the island. Jones and Thompson got into a dinghy and continued to pursue the fox and finally killed it with a shot near the Middle Eye.

It is no longer appropriate to be armed with a pistol on Hilbre but the north Wirral’s fox population has increased enormously and foxes have bred on Hilbre for the past two summers.

This second picture shows a young fox investigating the bird observatory building on the island during the summer of 2015. 

Photo from the Hilbre archive maintained by Barry Barnacal

Hilbre has the status of a local nature reserve and a reputation as a bird sanctuary. However the arrival of the foxes has had consequences for the Hilbre birds. 

The Dee estuary is a major breeding area for Shelduck and up to 2014 Hilbre had a thriving, breeding population of these birds. Once the foxes took up residence the Shelduck left. They breed in holes in the ground so are sitting ducks, well they are, for the foxes. The other major ground nesting birds on Hilbre, Meadow Pipits, have also shown a huge decline in breeding productivity but at least there are some left. So the summer birds are a worry but Hilbre and the Dee estuary are important on a world scale for wintering waders. Turnstone numbers have reduced significantly last winter and this winter. Turnstone used to turn up on Hilbre at the end of August and during September, moult whilst roosting on the north end of the island and then move on from the island to spend the winter somewhere else. This did not happen this year. The probable explanation is that Turnstone with a reduced flight ability due to moult would be a relatively easy target for a nocturnal predator, the foxes, consequently they did not use the island. The foxes are creating problems for the birds on Hilbre throughout the year. 

The question is, “Should we do anything about it?”

In 1922 Lewis Jones and his friend had no doubt that foxes should be killed. If we want to preserve the island for the birds then the foxes have to go!!!

Photo: John Elliott

This last picture shows part of the breeding colony of Shelduck before the foxes arrived.

John Elliott

Sunday 26 February 2017

Princes Trust Volunteers Help at New Ferry Butterfly Park

Over the last few weeks eleven youngsters have put in eight days of hard work at New Ferry Butterfly Park. They are from the Bromborough team of the Princes Trust, based at Bromborough Fire Station. The Princes Trust programme is open to 16 -25 year olds who are not in employment, education or training. It is delivered by Wirral Met College and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. 

NFBP say 'Thank you very much' to the team and their leaders Jodie and Linda. 

Not only have the team done a lot of work bashing brambles, clearing paths and moving brash, but they raised some money to buy us a new water butt to take water from the container roof. They had funds for the guttering as well - but when they got to GAP to collect it, the manager gave it to them for free!

Thursday 23 February 2017

‘The Consequences of Climate Change at the Coast’

Transition Town West Kirby have organised a talk. 

3rd March at 7pm

‘The Consequences of Climate Change at the Coast’

A talk by Dr Jenny Brown, National Oceanography Centre.
Learning from past and present storms and using projections of climate change and rising sea levels to assess future risks  and inform future sea defence needs.

West Kirby Arts Centre, 29 Brookfield Gardens. Car parking at West Kirby Concourse (5 minutes walk).

Admission free but donations to TTWK welcome.

Sunday 12 February 2017

Build a Bird or Bat Box

Saturday 18th February
Port Sunlight River Park
1.30 - 3.30 p.m.

Build a bird or bat box from the kits provided. Suitable for accompanied children aged 8 and over.

Boxes will be put up in the River Park or can be taken home for cost price.

Places must be booked in advance.
Contact the Ranger, Anne Litherland by email or telephone 07587550060

Saturday 11 February 2017

Calling All Photographers!

Peter Miller, Chairman of the Friends of Dibbinsdale, has a challenge for local photographers...

Do you visit Brotherton Park or Dibbinsdale with your camera?

The Friends of Dibbinsdale are going to produce a calendar for 2018 and invite everyone to submit their photos of the reserve. The best will be selected for the calendar.

Get snapping! We look forward to seeing what you come up with. The details are below.

As part of our continual aim to promote the enjoyment of visiting Brotherton Park and Dibbinsdale Local Nature Reserve, we wish to produce a calendar for 2018, which will highlight the beauty and diversity of the landscape, wildlife and flora through the seasons.

WE THEREFORE INVITE ALL YOU BUDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS, WHATEVER SKILL LEVEL, to visit the reserve and submit digital pictures which best capture the Reserve’s diversity. All we ask is for you to submit your digital picture(s) by email as a jpeg, no more than 4MB per photo, and preferably in landscape. Please add any notation you consider appropriate. 

When submitting your image could you please reference your file and the email subject heading with your telephone number. This is necessary for us to ensure the image and the submitter are cross referenced when we start the selection process.

During October/November we will, together with Wirral 20 Photography club, decide on 12 photos which will be submitted for printing.

If you have any queries regarding the above then please email the Friends of Dibbinsdale

Friday 10 February 2017

Change of Speaker at Tonight's Talk

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have a change of speaker to the one advertised for tonight's talk at Heswall Hall.

Here are the new details for the talk:

Friday 10th February

‘A Traditional Wirral Orchard Under Threat: Networks, Roots and the Human Ecosystems’

Room B, Heswall Hall, Heswall
7.30 p.m.

Dave Ellwand of Wirral Tree Wardens will give a talk about the threat to Brimstage Hall Orchard.

Admission £3. All welcome.

Thanks to Dave for filling in at the last minute.

Saturday 4 February 2017

Wirral Wildlife Prize Quiz

There was a fish theme to the quiz.
The answer to number 37 was Seahorse.
Photo: Richard Cox.

Congratulations to everybody who entered the Wirral Wildlife Prize Quiz 2016 and thank you all for your support! There were nine entries with all correct answers – Mrs S Abrams, Liz Kenny, Mr John Mycock, Julia Oxley, Vivienne Pitcher, Mrs D R Platts, Helen Smith, Linda Sutton and Bill Wonderley. Very well done all of you. The prize goes to Julia Oxley who was selected in the random draw.

For the answers see