Sunday 24 March 2019

Port Sunlight River Park Heritage Centre Opening

The new heritage centre at Port Sunlight River Park will be officially opened on Tuesday 2nd April at 1 p.m.

There will be a variety of family fun activities, including a nature trail, seed planting and wildlife recording.

If disabled access is required please phone Anne Litherland on 07587 550 060 or email her.

Thursday 21 March 2019

Spring Is Here!

From the unrolling of bluebell carpets to the dawn chorus of birdsong, migrant birds returning to babies being born - spring is the time for new beginnings. You can feel it in the air.

But you can also see, hear and smell it if you know where to look.


From mid-April onwards, bluebells set our woodlands ablaze with their bright blue flowers. The UK is home to more than half the world’s population of bluebells, making it our unofficial national flower. The presence of native bluebells, (as opposed to their Spanish cousins sold in garden centres) is a sure sign you are in a very old and special woodland.

Where to see bluebells

Poors Wood, Northwich
Pumphouse Wood, Northwich
Owley Wood, Weaverham
Swettenham Valley, Holmes Chapel

Wildflower meadows

Whether it's a blaze of yellow from meadow buttercups, the buzz of grasshoppers and crickets or the amazing perfume given off by the combination of flower – the colours, sounds and smells of a wildflower meadow are truly something to experience.

It then makes it a terrible fact that in Cheshire we've lost 99% of our special wildflower meadows since the 1960s. But there are still special places you can go to experience them.

Where to see wildflower meadows
Swettenham Valley, Holmes Chapel

Migratory birds

Whether it be flying from the south to breed in spring or simply passing through on their journey, bird migration is one of the UK’s most impressive natural events. You can witness the comings and goings of flocks over the year, while remembering to look out for those preferring to fly solo.

In spring cuckoos fly from Africa, swallows fly from Africa, Arabia or India and chiffchaffs fly from Africa or the Mediterranean. Choosing to spend their winters in warmer climates, these birds all return to the UK for breeding.

Where to see migratory birds
Red Rocks, Wirral
Marbury Reedbed, Northwich
Gowy Meadows, Ellesmere Port

Celebrate spring at an event near you

Whilst wildlife spotting on your own is fabulous, if you ever fancy an escape from the day-to-day and to learn a little more, we have lots of events to help you connect with wildlife. Learning birdsong at our ID walk, taking a bluebell walk or seeing the spring migrants that have arrived - we have some great events for everybody.

Take a look to see what sparks your interest.

Sunday 17 March 2019

Love Where You Live, Hail To The Grafters

Laid hedge. Photo: Steve Yandel

Thanks to a grant from the Wirral South ‘Love Where You Live’ fund, Wirral Countryside Volunteers have laid 400m of hedgerow at New Ferry Butterfly Park. These hedges are dense for smaller birds whilst retaining a fair proportion of flowers for insect and later berries for birds. The volunteers have gone one step further by increasing the biodiversity of the hedge bank of the recently laid hedges by plug planting 50 each of primrose, greater switchwort, hedge bedstraw and foxglove into the hedge banks.

Paul plug planting. Photo: Kerry Loughnane

Paul Loughnane, honorary secretary of Wirral Countryside Volunteers, said “These flowers, whilst adding colour and interest to the bottom of hedgerow, will be useful for wildlife. “In the coming years the primrose will produce an early nectar source for early emerging butterflies such as the brimstone and later in the season orange tip butterflies will nectar on the greater stitchwort flowers. Hedge bedstraw is the larval food of the common carpet moth and bumble bees will climb right into the purple spikes of foxglove flowers in search of nectar. So many hedge banks have become dull with low biodiversity, but not here.”

The grant also enabled the Volunteers to host on the same day an apple grafting workshop at the park, in conjunction with David Ellwand of Wirral Tree Wardens. Here participants could make their own apple tree of a defined final size with a variety of their choice, which is not the case by growing from seed.

David talked about explained the about the 40 or more local Cheshire and Lancashire apple varieties on offer, whether the variety was cooker, desert or dual, its appearance, its flavour, storage properties and whether it was an early or late cropper. Pencil size diameter tree cuttings called scions were collected in November. David you must have a big fridge! Then David explained about the different dwarfing root stock you can use to determine the final size of the fruit tree.

Despite the weather with vicious hail, 13 people under the shelter of a gazebo grafted apple and pear trees, and about 40 trees were grafted on the day. First we practiced on hazel sticks and then on to grafting scions to the root stocks. Grafting of the scions to the root stock was achieved using the whip-and-tongue groove method and then firmly bound with tape making sure the cambium layers of both knit together so there is a free flow of sap.

The newly created fruit trees will be planted at the park, in local gardens, a new community orchard at Claremont Farm, Clatterbridge and at Christ Church Higher Bebington where they are making the church grounds more ecological. The south Wirral area will be brightened up in a few years time with apple blossom in May. The blossom is good for honeybees and maintains local apple varieties. With 25 participants in total there was certainly a buzz about the park that day.

Friday 15 March 2019

Award for Chairman of Wirral Wildlife

Many congratulations to our chairman, Stephen Ross, who has been presented with the Wirral Award for his work for wildlife and for being Chairman of the Wirral Women’s Refuge until 2017 when he was made Patron.

This Award confers civic recognition upon individuals in Wirral for distinguished service to the borough over a period of 20 years or more.

Stephen joined Cheshire Wildlife Trust in 1997 and became chair of Wirral Wildlife in April 2004. He was a trustee of Cheshire Wildlife Trust from 2005 until 2013 and a member of Dee Estuary Conservation Group from around 1999 and was later Chair until around 2014.

Monday 4 March 2019

Primroses for New Ferry Butterfly Park

Primroses from Spital station. Photo: Richard Ash

We have been talking to Merseyrail about arrangements for the Butterfly Park Opening Day on Sunday 5th May. Dave Kyle, their Facilities Manager, kindly invited us to collect some wild primroses from a bank at Spital Station. They are very likely Dibbinsdale stock. So Richard and Hilary went along and collected a few dozen and planted them in the newly-coppiced Brick Pit Coppice at the Butterfly park.

Primroses planted in the coppice. Photo: Richard Ash

Some of them are now out in flower!

Primroses in bloom at New Ferry Butterfly Park. Photo: Hilary Ash

There were so many we passed some on to Port Sunlight River Park, where they are starting to plant woodland flowers under their young trees. Thank you, Dave!

Dave also gave us some plants for the Plant Sale at the opening day. Reminder all gardeners - time to start preparing plants for that, especially pollinator-friendly ones.