Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Spring into life with a visit to RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands this half term


Coot with chick_Lynne Greenstreet

Take a walk on the wild side this May half term and admire nature’s new arrivals. The team at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, near Neston are encouraging visitors to explore the nature trails and discover a range of different homes for wildlife this school holiday.
Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager at the reserve, said: “Spring is a fantastic time of year here; not only is the weather encouraging us to spend more time outdoors, the wildlife is exciting too. Whilst the bluebells have faded for this year, lots of other flowers – the orchids are my favourite – are just starting to bloom. We are also seeing fresh, fuzzy chicks every day, as birds around the pools and trees welcome their young into the world.
“The gentle walks meander through beautiful wetland, woodland and grassland and offer the chance to get close to elegant egrets, brilliant butterflies and lounging lizards, who bask on wooden fences soaking up the sun’s warmth.”
In celebration of all the feathered new arrivals, families visiting the reserve can follow the ‘Baby Birds’ quiz trail to test their knowledge of the fresh faces seen around the reserve at this time of year. Plus, there’s lots of other fun, family activities to take part in, from hiring a Wildlife Explorer backpack, complete with minibeast kit, mini binoculars and more, to having a go at den building or enjoying a picnic with family and friends.
The Baby Birds self-led quiz trail is available daily from 9.30am-4.30pm until Sunday 3 June. All activities are free of charge but normal reserve admission charges apply for non-RSPB members.
For more information on the reserve and its activities, please call 0151 353 2720 or check out the website rspb.org.uk/burtonmerewetlands

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Catch the spring symphony at RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve this May



It’s a noisy time of year, as our resident birds are joined by a variety of summer migrants, all of whom are busy preparing for another breeding season on our doorstep. Springtime is the best time of year to enjoy birdsong, and the RSPB Dee Estuary team are hosting two exciting events to help visitors learn more about the different songs that can be heard all around us.
Birdsong and Breakfast” on Sunday 13 May offers the chance to discover a variety of warblers busily establishing breeding territories at this time of year, whilst the marsh is peppered with other summer migrants such as wheatears, and alive with the songs of skylarks and meadow pipits. This early morning walk provides an opportunity to see and hear Burton Marsh coming to life for the day in this busy time for nesting and migrating birds. Booking essential. Time: 7-10am. Cost: £15 (£12 RSPB members) which includes a cooked breakfast and drink at Nets CafĂ©.
 
“Birdsong for Beginners” on Sunday 27 May is the perfect time for less experienced birdwatchers to learn more about different bird songs in the woodland and around the reedbed at Burton Mere Wetlands. Get tips on identification and general advice about wildlife watching. This time of year, birds are particularly vocal as they sing to defend territories and attract a mate. Booking essential. Time: 8.30-10.30am. Cost: £10 (£8 RSPB members).
Venue: Birdsong and Breakfast - RSPB Burton Marsh, Station Road, Burton, Cheshire, CH64 0TG
Birdsong for Beginners - RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, Puddington Lane, Burton, Cheshire, CH64 5SF
 
Contact: For further details visit rspb.org.uk/burtonmerewetlands To book, phone the visitor centre on 0151 353 2720 or email deeestuary@rspb.org.uk

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results reveal a golden year for the goldfinch in Merseyside


Goldfinch on frozen pond - L Bimson


The latest results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch have revealed a golden year for the goldfinch along with a number of other small birds after a surge in sightings in gardens across Merseyside.  build up a picture of how they are doing. This year, more than 450,000 people across the country, including over 6,000 in Merseyside took part.
Coal tit - L Bimson

The event held over the last weekend in January revealed an increase in sightings of smaller birds, such as goldfinches, long-tailed tits and coal tits that can usually be seen visiting gardens and outside spaces in mixed flocks. Recorded sightings of the brightly coloured, sociable finch rose by 17% on 2017 figures for Merseyside and its bright red face was seen in more than a third of gardens. Other small birds that are thought to have benefited from the mild January weather include long-tailed tits (+20%) and coal tits  (+7%).
It also proved to be a good year for the greenfinch after a 4% rise in numbers seen, a welcome sign for a species that has undergone a 60% decline in sightings since the first survey in 1979.
The influx of these species to our gardens is thought to be linked to the favourable conditions during their successful breeding season in 2017. This, combined with the kind autumn and early winter weather in the run up to the Birdwatch in January, will have contributed to the rise in sightings. 
Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “Our garden birds are a part of our everyday life, whether it’s the robin perched on the garden fence or the flock of starlings you see on your way to work. To have hundreds of thousands of people spend an hour watching the wildlife in their garden isn’t only great to see, but it also helps us build up a picture of how our garden birds are doing, which is really helpful.
“Last summer was a really good year for many breeding birds with warm weather creating great conditions for many smaller birds to raise their young to adulthood. The rise in sightings of goldfinches, long-tailed tits and coal tits, along with chaffinches and greenfinches nationally, goes to show that in the absence of cold weather they can survive the winter months in good numbers. Looking at the results it is likely that across the UK this is what people saw in their garden.”

Wren - L Bimson
The survey also highlighted a dip in the number of recorded sightings of blackbirds (-12%), robins (-12%) and wren (-6%) on last year’s figures for Merseyside. Dr Hayhow explained: “We all will have noticed that the weather earlier in the winter was slightly warmer than we’re used to, and our garden birds have felt this too. It’s usual for there to be more food available in the wider countryside during a mild winter meaning birds are less reliant on the treats we put out on the garden feeders. However, unlike the finches and tits, robins and wrens did not have a good breeding season in 2017 and data from other surveys indicate that their numbers may be down overall this
year.” 
House sparrows - L Bimson



The house sparrow remained at the top of the Big Garden Birdwatch rankings as the most commonly seen garden birds with an average of more than three per garden recorded in Merseyside throughout the weekend. Starling held down the second spot, with the blackbird rounding off the top three.


Magpie - L Bimson 
For a full round up of all the Throughout the first half of the spring term the nation’s school children took part in the RSPB’s Big Schools Birdwatch. The survey of birds in school grounds saw over 670 school children in Merseyside spend an hour in nature counting the birds. The magpie was top of the Big Schools Birdwatch rankings with one being spotted in over 80% of schools in the county.

For a full round up of all the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results and to see which birds were visiting gardens where you live, visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch 




The top 10 birds in 2018 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch for Merseyside:

Rank
Species





Change in rank 2017-2018
Average per garden




Average per garden% change 2017 - 2018
% of gardens species recorded in 2018



% of gardens species recorded in change 2017-2018
1
House sparrow
0
3.2
0
52
-4
2
Starling
+1
2.5
-8.3
32
-12
3
Blackbird
-1
2..4
-12.1
88
-4
4
Woodpigeon
0
2.2
-7
79
-3
5
Goldfinch
+1
2.1
+17.3
34
0
6
Blue tit
-1
2.0
-6
70
-5
7
Magpie
0
1.7
-2.1
66
0
8
Robin
0
1.3
-12
80
-7
9
Great tit
0
1.3
-3.3
52
-3
10
Feral Pigeon
0
1.1
-6.8
25
-3

3.     Selected other results from RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch for Merseyside:
Rank
Species





Change in rank 2017-2018
Average per garden




Average per garden% change 2017 - 2018
% of gardens species recorded in 2018



% of gardens species recorded in change 2017-2018
14
Chaffinch
0
0.7
+11.2
27
+6
15
Coal tit
0
0.5
+6.7
28
+8
16
Greenfinch
+2
0.4
+4
16
-1

4.     The top 10 birds in 2018 RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch for Merseyside
Rank
Species





Change in rank 2017-2018
Average per garden




Average per garden% change 2017 - 2018
% of gardens species recorded in 2018
% of gardens species recorded in change 2017-2018
1
Magpie
+3
7.0
+40.8
82
+6
2
Black headed gull
-1
5.8
-47.5
47
-7
3
Blackbird
0
5.1
-0.3
67
-14
4
Feral pigeon
+2
4.9
+86.3
68
+39
5
Woodpigeon
-3
4.2
-29.9
71
-2
6
Common gull
+13
3.2
+579.4
36
+291
7
Carrion crow
+7
2.3
+105.1
53
+68
8
Herring gull
+2
1.7
-18.5
27
-35
9
Blue tit
+3
1.5
-0.9
47
-14
10
Robin
-3
1.4
-44.9
53
-16


       Laura