Wednesday, 29 July 2015

It's Liverpool

Read RSPB Liverpool's  article in Liverpool's new magazine
 'It's Liverpool'
 written by Group leader Chris Tynan 

PAGE  20

WALK ON THE WILDSIDE - Get a guide tour from the RSPB's Chris Tynan

Copies available at Liverpool tourist information centre


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Wavering about joining us at Hen Harrier day? Message from Mark


The Hen Harrier is a threatened bird of prey. In the UK it faces heavy persecution by shooting interests because Hen Harriers eat Red Grouse that shooters want to shoot.  There should be 2600 pairs of Hen Harrier in the UK (including c330 in England), say scientists, but there are just 600-800 (only 4 pairs last year in England).

Here are three things you can do to help the Hen Harrier - and also a way you can find out much more about Hen Harriers and the grouse shooting industry.

1. Come to a Hen Harrier Day rally on Sunday 9 August. Several are planned, from Arne in Dorset to Mull and Perthshire in Scotland. I'll be attending what is likely to be the biggest rally, with Chris Packham, in the Goyt Valley near Buxton in Derbyshire. Full details from this website.

2. If you can't attend a rally (and even if you can) then add your voice to a social media thunderclap if you use Twitter, Facebook or tumblr. This thunderclap, which will send the simple message 'We're missing our Hen Harriers - we want them back!' is supported by the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, Chris Packham, the League Against Cruel Sports, the British Mountaineering Council and many others. Around 3.5million people will get this simple message through social media on Hen Harrier Day and you can add your voice by clicking here.

3. Add your signature to my e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting. This is a re-run of last year's highly supported e-petition which highlighted the issue. This year over 5,500 people have signed in less than a week - when we reach 10,000 signatures the Westminster government must respond.

And if you would like to learn much more about this issue - wildlife crime in the UK uplands, what grouse shooting is all about, habitat damage caused by heather burning, the economic costs of grouse shooting and what you can do to help, then my latest book Inglorious - conflict in the uplands is published this week and will guide you through the issues. Click here for details.

Many thanks for your support

Dr Mark Avery

Sunday, 26 July 2015

RSPB LIVERPOOL Members Group - Photography Competition

Here at RSPB Liverpool , we love to embrace the outdoors; venture a little closer to nature and immerse ourselves in Liverpool's beautiful wildlife and flora. It's the best way to experience moments you will never forget!
If nature inspires you, why not share a special moment or encounter you've had with us, and enter our Giving Liverpool nature a home calendar 2017 competition. It can be a bird, bug, plant, animal or even a beautiful view.
We are looking for a total of twelve spectacular photographs of nature and wildlife taken by our members to use in our Giving Liverpool nature a home calendar 2017.

RSPB LIVERPOOL Group -  Photography Competition Rules

·       Aims - all money raised from the competition and subsequent calendar sales (less costs) will be donated to RSPB
·       The competition is open to Members of the RSPB Liverpool Group
·       Photographs can be submitted in 1 category - Birds/nature of Liverpool  postcode area L1 – L38 
·       Photographs of domestic animals (ie pets), zoo animals and cultivated plants are not eligible
·       Images of British Wildlife in captivity are also not eligible.
·       No wildlife or habitats should be harmed, put at risk, or unduly disturbed in the process of taking photographs.
·       NO Fee, up to 3 photographs colour or black and white.
·       The overall winner will receive kudos and a copy of the calendar
·       Photographs should be provided as prints no larger than A4, in landscape format
·       Name and contact details to be written on the back of each photograph
·       Submission Deadline is April AGM 2016 for 2017
·       Submit to Chris Tynan  or hand to a committee member at an indoor meeting
·       This competition is open to amateur photographers only

·       Winners will be required to submit their original high resolution digital files. These files should be of sufficient quality to reproduce to the following specifications: 300 dpi.(dots per inch: a measure of resolution used for printed text or images, the more dots per inch, the higher the resolution.) Landscape images must have a minimum width of 3354 pixels x height 1736 pixels. Portrait images must have a minimum of 2008 pixels x height 2445 pixels (See attached sparrow photo these photos will probably save as mega large files, this one is 3354 x 1736 pixels and 300 dpi)

·      RSPB Liverpool cannot accept any responsibility for any technical problems which may result in any entry being lost or delayed.
·       Pictures must not have been published in any other calendar or similar publication.

·       Full copyright title remains with the author/owner
·       Entrants under 18 must have parental or legal guardian consent prior to entering the competition
·       The  RSPB Liverpool Group may retain your contribution and may choose to display your entry on a website. The intention is to create a 2017 Wildlife calendar to raise funds. With this in mind it is assumed that entrants agree to the use of their photographs for this purpose. (If this is not the case please do not submit photographs). The Group may also publish your contribution in other media (on the Group's website for instance); where possible we will approach you directly to confirm your permission for further publication.

Judging will take place at the Group's Indoor Meeting of  Monday April Agm 2016

There be Hobby's and Dragons in these here parts

RSPB Liverpool says 'Save our Hen Harriers'

Here's a few photies from last sundays's trip to Rixton and Risley

Seriously noisy, no sneaking past
We arrived with the car booters and   managed to get past the sites 30 white farm yard ‘guard’ geese, you don’t wanna mess with these guys.

Rixton rich grasslands

Rixton Cley pits is a wildlife haven, Easy to follow grassy paths, with the odd stile, take you to ponds, calcareous grassland, wildflower meadows, and woodland.
Meadow brown
Although not teeming with birds, other wildlife of interest kept us entertained,  butterflies, fabulous hawking dragon and damsels and gt created and smooth  newts in the ponds.

Fortunately the reserve wasn’t flooded this year despite a bit of a deluge earlier in the week.

Looking for newts

4 spotted chaser

Southern hawker
Blue tailed damselfly
Broad bodied chaser

Hebridean sheep 
Baaaa. we were not alone!. Hebridean sheep have been introduced to the site and are playing an important part in  conserving this special wildlife Reserve & SSSI. The rare plants which grow on Rixton Clay Pits grasslands are under threat from scrub-invasion and rougher grasses. The plants need a short turf to survive and the sheep will graze out the scrub to allowing the plants to flourish.

Highlight of the site were great views of a kestrel family, juv’s perched on wires, parents hunting on grassland over an adjacent field. We did see hobby briefly but better was to come.


Risley moss has a visitor centre and its paths are broader and more defined. 
Tower hide, Risley
Our main location was by the tower hide, which gave us extensive views over the surrounding woodland and peat bog, and a distant view of the tip and it's swarming gulls. 

Hobby hunters
Highlight of this visit was a fabulous hobby; Who when not perched in an oak, frequently swooped over the bog, catching and eating dragonflies on the wing.   Oh and a yellowhammer,  a little golden singing beacon.
Hobby perched in Oak

Bird list  :  Reed bunting, cormorant, blackbird, carrion crow, white farm  geese, canada geese, mute swan, gadwall, coot, moorhen, mallard , goldfinch. yellowhammer, whitethroat, blackbird, song thrush, bullfinch, chiff chaff, willow warbler, blue tit, great tit, swallow, jay, magpie, house martin, dunnock, nuthatch, swift, chaffinch ,long tailed tit, blackcap, heron, house sparrow, greenfinch, feral  pigeon, wood pigeon, starling wren, buzzard, kestrel ,hobby, black headed, lesser black backed, herring  gulls 


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Everton's Triumph. The tale of 2 cities

Druid st poppies
In March I told you about Landlife/Grow wild England’s ‘ tale of two cities’ wildflower corridors planted on Everton brow.
Grow Wild’s aim has been to transform unexpected inner city areas into wildflower centres of excellence and Everton Park fitted the bill perfectly.
Kepler plot
Under its green slopes are the hidden foundations of over 100 steep terraced streets, demolished as part of the 1960s slum clearances. It was once one of the most densely populated districts in the UK.
Ceramic houses Kepler St
Landlife, a charity based at the National Wildflower Centre at Court Hey Park in Huyton, has spent months working with the community involving local groups like the Friends of Everton Park, West Everton Community Council and all of the local schools, with residents and children encouraged to join in the planting. Preparing the park for an explosion of wildflower colour based around a walking trail.
Wildflowers with St George's church in background
On Saturday 18/07/15 the fruits of their labours was celebrated in an event in the park . All the lost Tribes of Everton, those who used to live in the demolished streets were invited to join in with a reunion and appreciate the planted wildflower meadows on the sites of Kepler, Sampson and Druid street.
Grow wild stall
Visitors, talked to staff on the Grow Wild UK Roadshow,   availed themselves of the healthy food stalls and creative workshops throughout the day.
Waggledance performers entertain children
In the afternoon, the West Everton Community Council  hosted ‘Out of the Blue’ music stage with poets, local and guest bands and performers, including Ian Prowse and Friends. That played on til 7pm.
A great day was had by all.

Everton streets and cathedral skyline

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

RSPB-led study reveals extent of upland burning across Britain

Burning found in over half of conservation areas assessed
Peat bog wetland

A new study led by the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science has revealed the extent of moorland burning across Britain’s upland areas. Burning on moorlands, a mixture of bog and heath habitats, is widely used to increase the numbers of red grouse that are available for recreational shooting. 

Burning was detected in 55 per cent of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and 63 per cent of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) assessed in the study, and significantly more burning took place within them than on comparable moorlands outside. These sites are designated under EU legislation for their conservation importance, and governments are charged with protecting them from damage and ensuring that they are restored to the best condition. However, many SACs and SPAs are in unfavourable condition, with burning identified by governments and statutory agencies as a primary reason for this poor status.

Dr David Douglas, Senior Conservation Scientist at RSPB Scotland and lead author of the study said: “Upland ecosystems are highly sensitive to burning practices. Knowing how much burning takes place and where is crucial to developing sustainable land management policies for these precious environments.”

This study, published in Biological Conservation, is the first time upland burning has been mapped in detail across mainland Britain. Using aerial photography and satellite images, 45,000 1-km squares were mapped across Scotland, England and Wales, and revealed that burning occurred across 8551 of these squares. In the ten year period covered by the study from 2001 to 2011, the number of burns recorded increased rapidly by 11 per cent each year. Other studies have found that the potential number of red grouse shooting days in some areas of Britain has risen over a similar period, and moorland management has also intensified.
Red grouse

In Scotland and England, a third of burning took place on deep peat soils, an important carbon store. The UK has 10-15 per cent of the world’s blanket bog peatlands. Locking in 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon[1], this deep peat in the uplands is the largest carbon store in the UK[2]. Upland areas are also a vital water source, supplying around 70 per cent of our drinking water[3]. Burning has been linked to poor water quality in these areas, requiring large sums of money to treat the water.

Martin Harper, Director of Conservation at RSPB said: “Our uplands are amongst our most precious habitats in Britain and home to important wildlife. However, many of our uplands are in poor condition, due to intensive land management practices. It’s very worrying that burning is increasing, given the damage it can cause and that it occurs in many of our conservation areas.

“Governments and statutory agencies across Britain need to take action to reduce burning in our uplands rather than allowing them to be increasingly damaged year on year.  Although their regulations already advise against burning on blanket bog it is often used on these areas with their consent. These regulations need to be strongly enforced so that uplands are properly protected against this damaging practice.”

[1] The amount of carbon stored in the UK’s blanket bogs is detailed in the 2011 “IUCN UK Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands.”

[2] The size of the UK’s blanket bog as a carbon store is contain in the 2012 study “A GIS based MCE model for identifying water colour generation potential in UK upland drinking water supply catchments.”

[3] The amount of UK drinking water from upland areas is detailed in the 2001 study “Long term variation in water colour from Yorkshire catchments.”

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Twitch in The Potteries.

Ann and myself had a little trip down to Stoke today to see the red footed falcon that has been present for the last 10 days or so. What a great little bird . We set off at 7-30am, arriving 1 hour later thinking we might be the first to see it today only to find at least 30 people already there. It was a bit distant hidden in a large tree at first, but then came out to perch on some telephone wires only about 50yds away giving great views. There was unbelievably the added bonus of a female black redstart just 100yds up the road showing really well.


female black redstart

red footed falcon

Friday, 17 July 2015

Call for budding wildlife explorers to join a Saltmarsh Safari this summer

Ever wondered what creatures lurk in the saltmarsh at RSPB Marshside? This summer holiday, it’s the perfect time to find out by joining the RSPB for a Saltmarsh Safari adventure.
Armed with sweep nets and magnifying glasses, budding wildlife explorers will be taken on a journey through the saltmarsh to enjoy close-up views of the amazing creatures and plants which make their home in this hostile landscape.

Nick Godden, RSPB Ribble Reserves Warden, said: “If crawling through the grass armed with a pooter to catch minibeasts, or sieving mud in search of worms sounds like fun, then this is the perfect activity for you.

“The safari is an ideal way for families and children to safely explore the intriguing wildlife in the saltmarsh, but of course, it’s not just for children – the event is also a great excuse for adults to find their inner child and enjoy a wild adventure.
“We never know quite what we might find, but prepare to be amazed at the variety of creatures which makes their home here.”

Running on Sunday 26 July, Wednesday 12 August and Monday 24 August, the Saltmarsh Safari starts at 11 am from the RSPB car park on Marine Drive, Southport (next to reserve and old sand works)..

This event will cost £4 for RSPB members, £5 for non-members and £2 for all under-18s. Booking is essential for this event, please call the Ribble Discovery Centre on 01253 796292 to book your place.

More information about Marshside can be found on our website,

Big butterfly count

The Big ‪#‎ButterflyCount has officially started! Will you be taking part?
Between 17th July - 9th August we need you to help count our butterflies! Join in by using our FREE downloadable ID chart, or our FREE apps for iOS and Android.

If you are over on Twitter you can follow our launch in London this morning with Sir David Attenborough!
Find with the hashtag #ButterflyCount

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Your Harriers Need You

Terry & Andrea with Harry

As a member of the Tayside Raptor Study Group I recently had the opportunity to meet up with Mark Avery and Henry the Harrier during their nationwide tour. Over a curry we discussed the plight of our birds of prey particularly the Hen harrier. As birders we need to raise the profile of the harrier and not allow the grouse shooting industry to have its own way. There is a concerted effort going on right now to eradicate the Hen harrier - male birds seem to be the target this summer meaning females at the nest are not fed leading to nest desertion. In winter, roost sites are now being targeted further reducing the population. 

The aim of the Hen harrier day campaign is to bring the plight of these birds into the national conversation. Some newspapers are owned or edited by members of the shooting fraternity and many politicians are on the side of the grouse industry. So we must rouse ourselves to stand up for our persecuted birds. 

I mentioned to Mark Avery that Liverpool were planning a minibus to attend a Hen harrier day event and how it would be good if more local groups did the same. 
Mark passed on his regards to the Liverpool group and mentioned meeting certain members at the North West Birdfair. What a speaker he would be for an indoor meeting. 


Tayside group with Mark Avery

A website dedicated to Hen Harrier Day 2015 has been launched –

Buy a badge, bag or teeshirt and show your support!

Bowland Betty


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Record-breaking bird settles into new home at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh

It’s smiles all round for staff and volunteers at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh after efforts to create a safe home for a record-breaking bird have proven to be successful.

Both Arctic and common terns are now nesting safely at the reserve after the team placed two brand new purpose-built rafts out on site, thanks to funding of £43,026 from The Veolia Environmental Trust, which was awarded through the Landfill Communities Fund. Covered in cockle shells to replicate the shingle beaches where they would normally nest, the tern rafts help to protect the eggs and chicks of these delightful birds from predators.

The Arctic tern is famous for holding the record for the longest migration of any bird – over 25,000 miles every year all the way from Antarctica. It is an uncommon bird in North West England, with the Ribble Estuary at the southern limit of its breeding range. These incredible creatures can now be seen gracefully patrolling over the reserve’s newly-created lagoons, before stooping to catch a fish from the surface.

Nick Godden, RSPB Ribble Reserves Warden, said: “The day after we put the two tern rafts out, there were birds already investigating them. It is so exciting to see these birds nesting on the purpose built rafts so soon and we are really hoping they will be successfully raising chicks in a few weeks’ time.
“Of course, it’s not just terns that are making themselves at home at Hesketh Out Marsh. Visitors can expect to see other fantastic wildlife such as redshanks, brown hares and nesting avocets, all set against the atmospheric backdrop of the stunning song of the skylark. With summer in the air, it’s the perfect time to come and visit and get closer to nature.”
The terns are the latest creatures to make a home at the site since the RSPB transformed wheat fields back into a thriving home for nature eight years ago. The new pools and nesting sites – created thanks to the £43,026 grant from The Veolia Environmental Trust - are giving visitors a chance to get better views of wildlife at the reserve than ever before.
The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Paul Taylor, added: “It is great to hear that this important project is achieving what it set out to do. The results show that the Landfill Communities Fund makes a real difference to England and Wales’ biodiversity. I look forward to hearing about the continued growth of the tern population in the future.” 

For more information about Hesketh Out Marsh, please visit

Spend a night under the stars in Cheshire and show your support for nature

Rare chance to discover the secret world of RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands after dark

Thousands of people in Cheshire are being encouraged to spend a night in nature’s home next month by taking part in the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout.
Running from 7-9 August, the event – which is now in its third year - encourages families to sleepout overnight and find out which creatures they share their homes with, while raising money to help protect them.
From pitching a tent or building a shelter in the back garden, to just simply heading outside and sleeping under the stars, there are plenty of ways to join in.
Organised sleepout events will also be held at various RSPB reserves across the country, offering all ages the chance to experience the secret world of a nature reserve after dark – including RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands in Cheshire.
On Saturday 8 August, join the Burton Mere Wetlands team for an exclusive chance to spend the night on the reserve. This fantastic sleepout event, which will run from 5.30 pm on Saturday 8 August to 9 am on Sunday 9 August, offers a variety of fun activities, including a dusk walk, bat detector fun and a meet the moths event.
Tickets, which are £30 per adult (£25 RSPB member) and £15 per child under-14 (£12.50 RSPB child member), include all activities, an evening meal on Saturday evening and a light breakfast on Sunday morning. Hot and cold drinking water will be available throughout the event and hot drinks and snacks can be purchased on-site. However, participants are asked to bring any other refreshments and food they will need, along with camping equipment, tents, sleeping bags and torches – teddy bears are optional!
Spaces are limited. For more information or to book, please call RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands on 0151 353 8478 or email

The Big Wild Sleepout is part of the RSPB’s ‘Giving Nature a Home’ campaign, which is aimed at inspiring everyone to do their bit for nature, wherever they live and however big their outside space
Sarah Houghton, Big Wild Sleepout organiser, said: “Whether you’re camping in a back garden or attending your local RSPB reserve event, we hope that thousands of people will be getting closer to nature and be inspired to help save it.  Some of our best loved garden favourites are among the creatures shown to be in serious trouble and by taking part in this fun outdoor activity, we’re making the nation aware that nature needs our help.”
This year’s Big Wild Sleepout is being supported by Rohan, designer and supplier of outdoor clothing and footwear
Roger Cann, Managing Director for Rohan, said: “We pride ourselves on gear to keep you protected in the world's wildest places and for many people a love of adventure starts close to home. The RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout is inspiring, accessible and encourages people to get outdoors, discover local wildlife and help preserve it for future generations, which is something we at Rohan fully support.  
“Whether it's wrapping up warm with base layers or waterproofs to keep the rain out, the RSPB's budding naturalists can kit themselves out for a night in the wild at Rohan!”
For more information and ideas on how to make the most of your Big Wild Sleepout, visit:

Thursday, 2 July 2015

A tale of two cities awakes

First  poppy out - Kepler street plot

For those of you who follow the blog, you will recall that I helped spread Everton meadows wild flower seeds.  The grow wild project, twinned with Manchester

An incredible wet day for us who made the effort but now the fruits of our labours awaken.
I've been following the plots since their creation and reported the first poppy to bloom on  21/06/15.
12 days later a sea of red has occured, with the Druid st plot being the brightest. The white chamomile is also doing well whilst the back runners at the moment are the cornflowers... but with the recent hot sun and today's rain we expect a tide of blue very soon.  

Druid st plot poppy fest
Druid st plot

Estuary View over  Kepler and Sampson st plots
Kepler and Sampson st plots