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

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