News archive

November 2015

Friday, 20 November 2015

Mice to make homes in tennis balls at RSPB Dee Estuary thanks to local club

Mice to make homes in tennis balls at RSPB Dee Estuary thanks to local club

One of Europe's smallest mammals has been given a helping hand by staff at the RSPB's Dee Estuary nature reserve - thanks to a kind donation from a local tennis club.

Since the discovery of an empty harvest mouse nest, found during recent grass cutting, alerted reserve wardens to the fact these tiny creatures are living on the Cheshire site, the team have been getting creative with an unlikely source - old tennis balls - to help give nature a home.

Harvest mice are not common this far north, so the team were interested to discover how many are living on the reserve and in which areas. Being tiny and secretive creatures, it can be difficult to survey their distribution, but thanks to an idea to use tennis balls as homes for the mice, the reserve staff will next year be able to gain a better idea.

Alasdair Grubb, warden at the RSPB's Dee Estuary nature reserve, said: "Sadly harvest mice numbers are falling in the UK due to changing farming practices and other pressures on our countryside, so we were delighted to discover they had made a home at Burton Mere Wetlands and were eager to find out how many and whereabouts they were living.

"Tennis balls might seem like an odd solution, but it's actually a trick that's been used with balls from Wimbledon for years. So, I contacted the tennis section at Neston Cricket Club and enquired if they would consider donating any of their used balls.

"The club coach, Dan Stickland, was more than happy to help and provided 35 old tennis balls for me to drill a hole in and put around the reserve in suitable locations; which means next summer I'll be able to revisit each tennis ball and see whether it has been used as a nest.

"As well as allowing us a means of surveying the numbers, the tennis balls also protect the mice from predation and bad weather, and provide extra homes by giving them chance to nest in areas where there might be ample food, but not quite the right conditions."

Despite this helping hand, unfortunately visitors to the reserve are still unlikely to see these cute little creatures due to their shy behavior, but there are still plenty of reasons to visit Burton Mere Wetlands at this time of year, most notably for the vast flocks of ducks, geese and swans settling in for the winter.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Nature Summit: EU officials to consider future of Merseyside's special places

UK sites affected could include the Mersey Estuary
Campaigners from across Europe, including the UK, are arriving in Brussels to tell the European Commission to drop the attack on vital nature laws and focus on their enforcement instead.
Today's discussions have particular relevance for Merseyside as the future of special sites, such as Mersey Estuary and key species including shelducks are protected under the Nature Directives.
Conservationists, including the RSPB's Chief Executive, politicians and representatives of the EU institutions are today [Friday 20th November] attending the "Conference on the Fitness Check on EU Nature Legislation" organised by the European Commission in Brussels as part of the review of the Birds and Habitats Directives: collectively known as the Nature Directives.
EU Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, will outline the Commission's first findings from the process so far. The Commission consultants will outline their findings from the biggest ever detailed evaluation of nature conservation legislation in Europe. The results, which included over half a million responses from citizens across the European Union concerned about threats to the Nature Directives, will be discussed by panels composed of officials from Member States, industry and farmers' representatives, conservation organisations and MEPs.
It's feared the Fitness Check, which is part of the Commission 'REFIT' agenda, of the laws could be used as an excuse to re-open and potentially weaken these laws under the guise of 'better regulation'. But since the review began, the people of Europe have demonstrated an unprecedented show of support to protect nature.
A record number of people took part in a public consultation on this issue in the summer, with the overwhelming majority of the more than a half a million who responded backing the directives and asking for stronger implementation.
Last month, environment ministers from nine EU countries, including Germany, France and Spain - but not the UK - signed a letter to the Commission calling for the laws to be better implemented, not weakened. In the same week, an equally supportive letter followed from MEPs representing the seven biggest political groupings in the European Parliament.
A European Parliament draft report on the EU's Biodiversity Strategy, presented earlier this month, also highlighted the importance of protecting the Nature Directives.
Mike Clarke is the RSPB's Chief Executive. He said: "At a time when nature is facing an extreme crisis, the Fitness Check evidence has shown, unequivocally, that the Nature Directives not only work but they are the strongest tool Europe has to prevent further erosion of nature. The evidence proves it makes no sense to undermine the Nature Directives. It is also clear that problems, such as poor and uneven enforcement, lack of funding and the impact of measures like the Common Agricultural Policy are responsible for driving down populations of threatened wildlife."
Campaigners from the conservation organisations behind the Nature Alert campaign to protect the directives (BirdLife Europe, EEB, Friends of the Earth and WWF) will be raising awareness outside the event and will also be represented amongst the speakers.
The European Commission's decisions on the future of Nature Directives is expected by June 2016.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Wader Conservation World Watch.

Wader Conservation World Watch.

Wader Conservation World Watch.
Part of Wader Conservation November
A celebration of wader conservation and conservationists.
7th & 8th November 2015

Its as simple as A,B,C.

A. Go out and see waders/shorebirds wherever you are in the world.
B. Send us an email telling us what you have seen and where.
C. We'll create a list the species seen between us worldwide.
D. Look for you name on the roll of honour on this website.

It is that easy; no registering required just good old-fashioned bird watching... oh! And an email.

This is your opportunity to show your solidarity with, and appreciation of, wader conservationists around the world be they professionals or volunteers.

Go and see waders: because you can!

This year the UK will have its first dedicated wader festival.

Join us for the
Wirral Wader Festival
14th - 15th November 2015