Wednesday, 7 April 2021

50 Years of Wirral Wildlife




In the early days of the Cheshire Conservation Trust (how Cheshire Wildlife Trust was originally known), Wirral group was part of the West group based in Chester. Sixty members living in Wirral were needed before the Group could become autonomous. That happened at a meeting at Bebington Oval on 7th April 1971.

The original committee consisted of Chairman Major Frank White, Margaret Gilmour, Henry Larsen, Nora MacMillan (Mrs Mac), David Mills, Jane Ratcliffe, Richard Smith and Graham Taylor.

The group manned two caravans each summer weekend, one at Thurstaston Visitor Centre and one at Eastham Country Park and meetings were held at a variety of venues. Jim Gilmour, a previous Secretary to the committee, remembered passing a queue waiting for our jumble sale in Liscard and hearing a woman wondering what a ‘Conversation Trust’ actually did. After Wirral became part of Merseyside in 1974 we changed our name to Wirral Wildlife.

We had little base data on species distribution in 1971 – an essential pre-requisite of conservation action. Recording of species in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Local Wildlife Sites has been carried out regularly since then. The information accumulated by our recorders has been of value to the Planning Department and Ranger Service. Our records and plans have been incorporated into management plans and used to obtain grants. They have enabled us to contribute knowledgeably to Council initiatives like the Local Plan and make recommendations when we scrutinise planning applications for their impact on wildlife.

We are now involved with six Wirral nature reserves and practical work is led by honorary wardens and teams of volunteers. Our urban reserve, New Ferry Butterfly Park, celebrated being open to the public for 25 years in 2020.


A busy day at New Ferry Butterfly Park
A busy day at New Ferry Butterfly Park


We have also created a programme of talks and guided walks open to the public. Monthly talks from September to April are held in Heswall Hall and feature a wide range of speakers.  In the summer guided walks include a (very early) Dawn Chorus and a bluebell walk.  Each autumn we hold an Apple Day at Eastham Country Park where visitors can taste locally grown varieties of apples and help to make juice using our traditional wooden apple press. Our group also attends events like Science Day at Ness Gardens, Ness Children’s Day and Science under the Stars.


Our display at Ness Science Day
Our display at Ness Science Day


None of these things would be possible without a dedicated team who form the Wirral Wildlife committee and the host of volunteers who help out in so many different ways. We value their support and we are all committed to a Wirral richer in wildlife.


Science Under The Stars
Science Under The Stars



We are currently considering what we can do to celebrate this 50 year milestone. For our 40th anniversary we met in November at Brotherton Park, Dibbinsdale and planted two native black poplars.

Tree planting at Dibbinsdale to mark our 40th Anniversary
Tree planting at Dibbinsdale to mark our 40th Anniversary


When the newly formed committee left the Oval in April 1971 they could have had no idea of how the world would change. In 2017 we were awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of the impact the group has had in protecting nature in Wirral. Our aim is to inspire, inform, educate and encourage people to protect nature in Wirral – values that were as true in 1971 as they are today.


Acknowledgment: most of the early information was taken from an article written by Jim Gilmour for our 40th anniversary.


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