News archive

April 2017

Thursday, 27 April 2017



QUESTION: How many calories are there in one cubic metre of lovely Mersey mud?

ANSWER: 4160, 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.

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 a porpoise

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Fire damages important wildlife area on the Dee Estuary

Fire damages important wildlife area on the Dee Estuary

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