Thursday, 27 April 2017


QUESTION: How many calories are there in one cubic metre of lovely Mersey mud?
ANSWER4160, the same number of calories as 16 Mars bars. Yum! No wonder thousands of birds are willing to fly all the way from the Arctic to feed here.

The Mersey Estuary is an amazing place. It’s been vital for the economic prosperity for the area, an iconic part of our history and always stunning for wildlife. It’s a European Special Protection Area ( SPA ), a designated Ramsar site, and one of the four nationally designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s)

Each autumn, birds arrive on the Mersey Estuary all the way from the Arctic . The estuary is a vital link in the chain of migration that sustains many birds through the winter. They choose the estuary as their winter quarters because it’s a sheltered site with an abundance of food. And it’s not just wintering species who love it on the Mersey . The estuary is also a popular and important breeding ground for skylarks and redshanks, as well as colonies of gulls.

Together with Morecambe Bay , and the Rivesr Ribble and Dee estuaries, the Mersey forms part of Europe ’s most important wetlands network for wintering and passage birds, hosting almost a million every year

Who feeds here?

49,000 Dunlin, 1,600 Curlew, 3,000 Teal, 10,000 Widgeon, 10,000 Shelduck, 11,000 Black Tailed Godwit, 5,5000 Redshank, 10,000 Lapwings, 2,500 Golden Plover and 1,300 Grey Plover.(approx figures,Wetland Bird Survey 2000-01)

A site is considered to be of international importance for any species of bird if it supports more than 1 per cent of the European population. The Mersey Estuary is internationally important for three species of duck and four species of wading bird and so qualifies as a Special Protection Area, a status reserved for only the most important bird sites in Europe. It also qualifies as a Ramsar site; a wetland of international importance. This recognises wetlands as vital links in a chain where migratory birds can stop and refuel en route between their breeding and wintering grounds. To be considered nationally important, a site must regularly support more than 1 per cent of the UK population of any species.


RSPB's Tim Melling tells us more about Important Bird Populations on the Mersey Estuary

*****For up to date sightings and bird counts go to

"April 2017 Mersey WeBS Count
Two things stand out this month: a new record for black-tailed godwit with 3,852 beating the previous record of 3,304 and our third record of green-winged teal found at Manisty by Paul."

Get involved:

The River Mersey supports a typical estuarine fauna. Invertebrates include such species as pink and green ragworm, white catworm,  lugworm in sandy foreshores, shore crabs, small Hydrobia snails and shrimps  (as well as sand gobies) in small pools, mussels, prawns, sea anemone in rock pools along Egremont shore, Korean sea squirts and common jellyfish in some of the docks whilst damselfly, dragonfly and caddisflies are found further up river.
Plant Species occurring on the salt marsh  include, for example, sea couch, common salt marsh grass, halberd-leaved orache, sea aster, scurvy grass, annual sea-blite, sea plantain, sea milkwort and sea clubrush.
Caddis fly

Shore crab
Sand Goby


Hydrobia snail




Water quality improvements now means the Mersey supports a wide range of fish species including Salmon, Trout, Lamprey and Dace. The increase in numbers of fish in the river has encouraged a number of other animals to return to the estuary. These include porpoises, grey seas and even octopus!

Cheshire fire and rescue with porpoise

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Fire damages important wildlife area on the Dee Estuary

Fire damage 

Firefighters were recently called out to tackle a blaze on the RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve which damaged an important area for nesting birds and wildlife.

Thankfully the fire was quickly brought under control and caused far less harm than the previous incident of this kind in 2013 which was started deliberately and destroyed a large swathe of Neston Reedbed and spread to Parkgate Marsh.

However, the incident has raised repeated safety concerns from RSPB staff as arson attacks on the site have been an ongoing problem for a number of years. Due to this, the RSPB operates a wardening scheme with volunteers patrolling the area, on the lookout for any inappropriate or potentially damaging behaviour.

Colin Wells, Site Manager at RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve, said: “This is a stark reminder of how vulnerable the reedbed and its surrounds are at this time of year. The last few weeks have been relatively fine and combined with periods of strong winds, the conditions on the marsh have become brittle and dry, which meant the fire would have started easily.

“We have a team of volunteers who warden the area in the evenings to try and discourage people from starting fires, which has successfully prevented any for a few years. It was the fast action of one of these volunteers on Saturday evening to promptly raise the alarm and allow the fire to be extinguished quickly before too much damage was done.”

The RSPB are concerned about the damaging impact the blaze may have had on local wildlife living in the affected site, particularly harvest mice and nesting birds.

Colin added: “The harvest mice have lost their habitat and many of them may have been injured or killed. The area is an important breeding ground for birds such as reed buntings and water rails. They have lost their nesting areas.  It’s devastating as we work so hard to create and maintain this site for wildlife and people to enjoy.

We would benefit from having more volunteer wardens to help keep an eye on the reedbed area in spring, so if any local residents are keen to help protect this special wildlife habitat, get in touch with us at Burton Mere Wetlands.”

Police are treating the fire as a potential arson case. Anyone with any information is asked to call Ellesmere Port and Neston Neighbourhood Policing Team on 0845 458 6373.

To enquire about the volunteer warden opportunity, email or telephone 0151 336 4932. For more information on the reserve and its activities, check out the website

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Shrug off those winter blues at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands this spring

Bluebells of Gorse covert

Now is the perfect time to discover one of the best bluebell woodlands in the region at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands on the Dee Estuary. Each spring, the nature reserve’s Gorse Covert, an area of ancient woodland, bursts into colour with a blanket of blue and this year, the bluebells have not disappointed.

Due to the mild winter, many of the flowers have already begun to emerge and tease admirers with their colour well before their usual May bloom.  Last year, hundreds of visitors to the nature reserve told staff of their delight at seeing such a pristine area of the iconic British flower.

Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager at RSPB Dee Estuary reserves, said: “It’s one of my favourite times of the year, when the woodland floor gradually changes from its dull winter green and brown to the vibrant blue hue, signalling the start of fresh life across the reserve. Over the past couple of years more and more visitors have commented on the extent of the bluebells; people were coming to the reserve purely to see the spectacle. The contrast of the deep blue against the greenery of the trees creates a lovely setting for a relaxing stroll.”

While Gorse Covert and Burton Point can be enjoyed independently by all visitors to the reserve, joining the popular ‘Bluebells and Birdsong’ guided walk will allow participants to discover more about the bluebells plus other interesting flowers and wildlife on the reserve.

Dan added:  “On our event this year, visitors can not only enjoy a stroll into the heart of the bluebell woodland, but there will be the chance toventure up to Burton Point, where there is another impressive stand of bluebells, along with breathtaking panoramic views over Burton Mere Wetlands and across the Dee Estuary to the Welsh hills.

“The walk is a great way to discover more about the wildlife which lives on the reserve. The nesting birds will be singing, adding to the tranquil atmosphere, and you will be given tips on how to pick out the songs of different birds. It’s a great way to spend a morning.”

The ‘Bluebells and Birdsong’ guided walk will be held on Sunday 30 April, from 10 am to 12 noon.  The cost is £6.50 per person, (£5 for RSPB members) and half price for children under 18.  This includes a hot drink in the reception hide, and covers the entry fee to the reserve for non-members.  To book your place, phone 0151 353 8478 or email

For more information on the reserve and its activities, check out the website

Wild Challenge with Miranda Krestovnikoff | Get involved!

Rspb images - Taking the Wild challenge 

Find out how you can get involved with this year’s Wild Challenge! It’s free, fun and the perfect way to get up close and personal with nature. With 30 different activities to choose from you’re sure to have a fun filled time.

Wild Challenge is a call - to get up, get out and get wild!

It's a challenge for you to connect with the natural world in brave new ways - to reach out and touch it and meet it head-on, up-close and personal.

All you need to do is create an account and an online profile, and within a few quick and easy steps you'll be ready to get stuck in to your wild adventure! 

You can go as quickly or slowly as you like and we have a wide range of activities to suit your needs and location. There's something to do throughout the year, no matter what the weather brings!

Selected other RSPB activities, such as Big Garden Birdwatch and Big Wild Sleepout, count towards your achievements too!
Wild Challenge replaces the Wildlife Action Awards – an awards scheme for schools and families which we've been running since 1988. Thousands of children have taken part over the years and Wild Challenge's shiny new content and online presence ensures that many more children can get wild and closer to the nature on their doorstep.
If you would like to focus on wildlife gardening and helping nature thrive in your outdoors spaces, check out our Giving Nature a Home pages where you can create a personal plan with six simple activities to help you give nature a home where you live.