Saturday 22 April 2017

Brimstage Hall Orchard Blossom Day

Photograph: David Higginbottom

Wirral Tree Wardens look after the Orchard at Brimstage Hall.

They are open to visitors again on Saturday 29th April when there is a chance that more of the apple blossom will be fully out. It's technically a volunteer working day, so they are asking visitors (including children) to act as volunteers and take pictures of the individual trees. This will add to their website records and a small exhibition of the images of the orchard at its best. Phone images, drawings, chalkings, paintings, all are welcome. There will be an apple-related prize for the best one. They also have a Wirral apple tree variety to name - good tasty red apples with reddish-tinted flesh that was grafted from an anonymous original in West Kirby.

Go along from 11am to 2pm and if the weather's fine, take a picnic and a blanket to sit on under the trees!

Monday 17 April 2017

New Ferry Butterfly Park Open Day

Sunday 30th April 2017
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Come and join us on our Open Day. Lots to see and do for the whole family.

To be opened by Alison McGovern M.P.


Maypole Dancing
Art and Craft Tables
Plant sale
Cake Sale
Spider Identification
Nature Walks
Pond Dipping

New Ferry Butterfly Park
Howell Rd
New Ferry
CH62 5BG
(behind Aldi next to Bebington Station Car Park).

We encourage you to walk or use public transport as there will only be disabled parking on site on the day. However there is lots of free parking in Greendale Road, just opposite the Park.

A Natural Future for Bees and Butterflies

Planting below the laid hedge. Photograph Richard Ash

A £280 grant from Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s  Project “Natural Futures” has enabled New Ferry Butterfly Park volunteers to plant 400 wildflower plugs to enhance the park’s hedge banks, pond verges and grasslands. The event attracted 25 volunteers in all, including our regular volunteers, Students from Liverpool John Moores University Conservation Society and 10 members of the public. 

A boundary hedge at the park was laid in the winter to renew the hedge growth from the base of the hedge. The hedge laying exposed the partially shaded hedge bank and revealed a rather boring ground flora. This has been remedied by the planting of 150 woodland wildflower plugs into the bank. The mix consisted of betony, common dog violet, primrose, greater stitchwort and wild strawberry. This will make the hedge bank more attractive and supply further nectar and pollen sources for bees and butterflies at the park. In a few years it will show-case what an attractive hedge bank can look like.

Planting around the pond. Photograph Richard Ash

Fifty ragged robin and fifty purple loosestrife plug plants were planted around the pond dipping pond which was restored last summer.

Also 150 common sorrel were planted into Charlie’s Field, at the south end of the park. Charlie’s Field has recently been be reclaimed from invasive suckering plum and a mowing regime started. Last year a pleasant surprise was that over 40 Cowslips have naturally colonised the area following the start of the mowing regime. Common sorrel is the larval food plant of the small copper butterfly. The small copper butterfly although a widely distributed butterfly, is declining in abundance; nationally a staggering 37% between 1976 -2014*. Here at the park we are doing our part to reverse that trend.

Planting in Charlie's Field. Photograph: Richard Ash
Ella Woodcock, Volunteer Coordinator from Liverpool John Moores University Conservation Society said “We were delighted to help at this community project and learn a little about butterfly ecology.  We were well looked after, we had homemade butterfly themed cakes, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  We will be coming back.” She added enthusiastically “Whilst we were weeding some purging buckthorn shrubs for the brimstone butterfly, a brimstone butterfly flew around these shrubs. It was great to see conservation in action.”

Beth Alvey, Natural Futures Volunteering and Training Manager, Cheshire Wildlife Trust said” It was great to see the connections between the volunteers, students and local residents.  If any other wildlife volunteering groups would like some assistance in building volunteering capacity, grants and training please contact Beth Alvey at Cheshire Wildlife Trust”.

Paul Loughnane, Honorary Reserve Manager, New Ferry Butterfly Park added “These projects are all in preparation for the Park’s open season which begins on Sunday 30th April with a big open day event with environmental themed stalls. It starts at 11 a.m. with Alison McGovern MP being the guest of honour and unveiling a new piece of artwork inspired by a poem ‘Life is like a butterfly’ by Joseph T. Renaldi 

* Small copper data from Butterfly Conservation

Wednesday 12 April 2017


Apple Day at Eastham Country Park

Wirral Wildlife is often invited to participate in local nature related events at places like Ness Gardens, parks, local garden centres or Earthfest. 

We have a small team but need more helpers. We need someone to liaise with the organisers and other people to help on the stall. If you like organising things or you can spare a couple of hours to help at an event please get in touch with Linda on 0151 342 1395 or email.

Monday 10 April 2017

Blossom Day at Brimstage Orchard

Our friends, Wirral Tree Wardens, have posted an invitation to their Blossom Day.

Come and see the apple blossom in our lovely demonstration orchard at Brimstage (behind the Mouse and near the Maze parking). 

This is an orchard of mainly local heritage tree varieties and we're encouraging other neighbourhoods in Wirral and Cheshire to start their own community or family orchards. Or come and help us look after this one, make cider and juice from local apple surplusses and fruit juices from hedgerow and other fruits. (It's free!) 

You can bring a blanket and a picnic if you like and there's food and drink and other items to buy in the Mouse and the Brimstage Hall shops. 

What will the weather be like? If the sun shines, we'll bring out our maypole to dance in the May. Please bring cameras and art materials for yourselves and your children: the orchard is very pretty, with odd-shaped trees and blossom depending on the wind sun and rain. This week the plums, damsons and cherries are flowering and our best guess is that the early apples will be in bloom on the 15th. 

We will have an apple-related prize for the best images we can use in an exhibition about the orchard, which has just survived a plan to build a car park in its midst. Leverhulme Estates are now supporting us to make the orchard a good place to visit, so a picnic with picture-making is a lovely start to the revival of our fortunes.

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Spring at Cleaver Heath

On Sunday April 2, I carried out the first Common Bird Census for the 2017 breeding season on Cleaver Heath. I noted a total of 20 species within and around the borders of the reserve, many identified by their songs (the male birds) and their calls. Some – such as the flock of 30 Curlew – were flying over to settle in nearby farmland. Among those setting up breeding territories in the reserve were 4 Chiffchaff and 3 Willow Warblers.  Of particular interest was a pair of Chiffchaffs who seem to be building a nest in the ex-carpark area right next to the new (3 year old) natural hedge which is growing nicely alongside the railings.

The Chiffchaff pair are installing quite a bit of nesting material down there. I went back today to take a picture of the area from where the female was calling and of the male perched on a nearby oak sapling.

I also went down to the lower part of the reserve to check the trail camera which I had set up near a suspected Badger latrine.

The first attempt had caught just a glimpse of the perpetrator .

The camera needed to be reset. While there, I enjoyed the colourful spectacle of the European Gorse now in full bloom and watched a Willow Warbler singing from various song perches on the Gorse and Birch trees.

As the spring days warm up we start to see butterflies. On Sunday April 2, following the bird survey Mike Maher and I deemed it warm enough to conduct the first ‘Pollard Walk’ Butterfly Survey along the newly established Cleaver Heath transect. This starts on the upper part of the reserve and goes through the Oldfield Farm and Church Farm public paths to the church at Thurstaston. (On the map shown below the words ‘Start’ and ‘End’ are interchanged because the route was recorded in the reverse direction – i.e. on the way back! )

During the time of the survey we were unlucky to see nothing until the very last metre of the last designated segment – a pair of Commas came out to sum themselves.

Better butterfly luck next time!

And there was better luck the following evening regarding the badger as the following photograph was captured. 

 Alan Irving