News archive

September 2014

Thursday, 18 September 2014

If you really need an excuse to go RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands- how about a party?

If you really need an excuse to go RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands- how about a party?

A birthday weekend extravaganza will be held at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands this month to mark the nature reserve's third birthday - and everyone is invited to join the party.

As a special birthday treat, visitors to the reserve on Saturday 27 September and Sunday 28 September will receive free entry and there will be a variety of free activities for all ages to enjoy, including den building, crafts and guided walks.
Staff and volunteers will be on hand to help people uncover the wildlife which makes its home at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands and visitors can also gain tips on how to give nature a home where they live, before enjoying homemade birthday cake.

The reserve is home to many wonderful creatures, from kingfishers and common lizards to dragonflies, and now is the perfect time to witness a wildlife spectacle as large numbers of ducks and geese begin to move in for the winter.

Dan Trotman, Visitor Development Officer for the RSPB's Dee Estuary nature reserve, said: "The birthday weekend is a fantastic way to celebrate the reserve turning three and a great opportunity for visitors to discover all that RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands has to offer.

"Since opening, more than 100,000 people have visited the reserve, enjoying the chance to get up close to nature and see wildlife they may never have come across before. Thanks to the recent addition of a new trail, people can now explore even more of the site, so whether you are looking for a relaxing walk, taking part in an event or wanting to marvel at the wonderful wildlife, there's something for everyone.
"We hope as many people as possible will come and help us celebrate our third birthday as it is sure to be a brilliant weekend."

The birthday event runs from 9.30 am-5 pm on Saturday 27 September and Sunday 28 September, with guided walks led by one of the wardens taking place at 10 am and 1.30 pm each day. On the Saturday, there will be a RSPB pin badge stall between 10 am-4 pm, with the full current range of pin badges to buy.
Please note there will be road closures around Burton from 11.15 am-12.15 pm on Sunday 28 September for a fun run event, so visitors to the reserve are advised to arrive before/after these times.

Burton Mere Wetlands is open daily, with the reception building open from 9.30am until 5pm. The reserve is just 10 minutes from the M56, off the A540 (Chester High Road). RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, Puddington Lane, Burton, Cheshire, CH64 5SF
For non-RSPB members, entry is normally £4 for adults (concessions £2), £6 for a family and £1 for children.
For more details and a full programme of activities and times, phone 0151 353 8478 or alternatively email or visit

Burton Mere Wetlands is the gateway to the RSPB's Dee Estuary nature reserve, with one of the newest visitor facilities in the country. From the comfort of the reception building, visitors can see nesting avocets and lapwings in the summer and huge flocks of ducks, geese and swans in winter. Water voles and badgers are resident here, whilst the summer months are alive with flickering colours from the countless dragonflies and butterflies.

Four miles up the road at Parkgate, the vast saltmarsh provides internationally important home for thousands of wading birds and wildfowl, but one of the biggest draws are the birds of prey and owls; hen harriers, peregrine falcons and short-eared owls are amongst the most captivating winter visitors. During exceptionally high spring tides, the saltmarsh becomes flooded and the resident harvest mice, field voles and the like can be seen fleeing the rising water.

Point of Ayr lies at the tip of the Welsh side of the estuary, where thousands of wading birds gather to roost at high tide, and a huge variety of migrant birds stop off to feed and nest on the saltmarsh. Natterjack toads breed in the sand dunes and the critically endangered Sandhill Rustic Moth thrives here.
A programme of events runs at all three sites throughout the year.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Giving Nature a home at Greenacres

Giving Nature a home at Greenacres

Saturday 6th September was the RSPB's Giving nature a home day at the 65 acre Greenacres woodland burial ground in Rainford, St Helens.

Following on from the success of previous RSPB led woodland explorer events, it gave us a further opportunity to raise awareness of this wonderful new woodland burial ground and to work in partnership to help improve the site for nature and people and hopefully inspire future generations to help nature flourish. The main aim of our shared event was to show local children some nature on their doorstep, and what they could continue to do at home to attract and help wildlife.

Despite the early rain over a thirty intrepid explorers - children, their parents and Sam the dog made it to the site. RSPB staff volunteers Katie, Helen and Jayne helped them make bird fat cone feeders to take home, search through leaf litter piles in search of small beasties and enter the day's colouring competition . The children were introduced to Homes for nature that could be built or bought i.e bird boxes , butterfly, bee and insect houses, hedgehog and frog homes, and various bird feeders.

Chris from our group led two walks around the grounds identifying flora and fauna along the way. The children were kitted out with loaned binoculars, to assist them in spotting some of the wonderful bird species in the woods including more less well known birds such treecreepers, nuthatches, woodpeckers and long tailed tits.

Hardworking Keely and Richard from Greenacres led the children with their magnifying glasses on a bug hunt in the woods, and got them busy tree bark rubbing. Doing this meant the children had the chance to earn the much coveted Greenacres woodland explorer badge.

Back at the hall we were well looked after by Greenacre's Angie who supplied us with the tea, coffee and jammie dodgers from the café hatch. Anna busy with burial ground visitor enquiries all morning managed to join us later in the afternoon for chat about the site and to see what was going on.

Greenacres was formally opened in April 2014 and is already the resting place of many souls. The ceremonial building is large modern wooden building that fits in with its surroundings, the chapel area having a cathedral high ceiling with large glass windows/doors overlooking the rich flower meadow.

This building and the attached car parking are situated between 2 woods, Emma and Grace woods, down in a natural dip the area has been landscaped with wild flower meadows and specimen trees such as silver birch, rowan, and alder. There are wide paths, wide enough for a complimentary golf buggy, used to ferry prospective visitors.

The woodlands are mainly mature broadleaf trees including impressive oaks and sweet chestnuts, inside there are bluebell glades and an orchid walk.
A berry heavy well established mixed hawthorn and elder hedge acts as a screen for the estates (Lord Derby owns the land) Emma wood cottage. Many small birds were flittering through it and using it as jumping off point to the cottage's bird feeders! We observed the ' red listed' tree sparrow ( blackcaps, chaffinch, blue, great and coal tit and willow warblers. A bird table has been positioned next to the woodland boundary and 2 seed feeders are currently by the car park, foragers included robin, gt tit and a grey squirrel -after it had stopped raining! (*Evidence of Red Squirrels on site have been reported)

There are several ponds on site, one of which has a healthy population of fish; a Heron visitor can't be far away! Moorhen, shelduck and breeding oystercatcher were recorded this year by one of the ponds.

Other/Woodland birds noted at our event Sparrowhawk, jackdaw, jay, nuthatch, kestrels, wren, buzzards, wood pigeons, collared dove, robins, mistle thrush, and crows. Butterflies, whites, red admiral and speckled wood. A large solitary rabbit was mooching around the back of the ceremonial building.
The weather wasn't particularly kind on Saturday and many other birds, insects can be found on site, please, see the monthly Wildlife watch reports on the Greenacres website

Future plans working with the RSPB should include the supply of a barn owl platform for the barn (healthy owl pellet found by ceremonial building at event - full of little bones!) and tree sparrow boxes.

The site is open to the public to roam. As long you report to reception, be respectful and keep your dogs on a lead.

Go and a have a look around, autumn colours emerging.


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

State of nature update

State of nature update

Following the launch of the State of Nature in 2013, on 3 September 2014 the Rspb are hosting the Conference for Nature in Westminster.

I'm sure there will be more news to follow, but please listen to David Attenborough's opening gambit here

2013 State of the nature, England report:

Iolo Williams:

Watch this to feel inspired, daunted, depressed, raging, emotional and driven.

and don't forget to vote for Bob !