News archive

June 2011

Wednesday, 22 June 2011



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 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.

In recent years this wildlife haven was under threat. The developer Peel Energy proposed a major tidal energy scheme on the Mersey, a range of options i.e. Tidal barrages, lagoons, tidal power gates and tidal fences; which have been chosen for their energy output rather than their potential impact on the environment. RSPB/Liverpool RSPB campaigned to stop this development and was successful.

The estuary is ecologically diverse; it's important for a wide range of plants and animals including invertebrates, fish and mammals, such as seals and otters and includes internationally important bird habitats. This needs to be recognised in any scheme that comes forward.
Were concerned the estuary may suffer a dynamic change, causing a reduction in tidal range, loss of inter-tidal mudflats, changes in currents leading to estuary erosion and altered sedimentation. Ultimately leading to a reduction in birds visiting and migrating to the area, and an unwanted impact on fish and mobile marine species.

Who winters here?

35,000 dunlin, 2000 curlew, 3000 knot, 6000 teal, 10,000 widgeon, 6000 shelduck, 2000 black tailed godwit, 3000 redshank, 8000 lapwings, 500 golden plover and 700 ringed plover.

The River Mersey supports a typical estuarine fauna. Invertebrates include such species as pink and green ragworm, razorfish, clam, white catworm, lugworm in sandy foreshores, shore crabs, small Hydrobia snails and shrimps (as well as sand gobies) in small pools,barnacles, 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.