Places to see birds

Gorse Hill Nature Reserve, Aughton, Lancashire

Gorse Hill Nature Reserve, Aughton, Lancashire
map of reserve

The Northwest Ecological Trust is an independent local charity, which founded the Gorse Hill nature reserve in 1996. The trust aims to manage and develop the 85 acre Gorse Hill site for the benefit of wildlife with the help and support of the local community, working with the disabled and children. It is totally dependent on volunteers.
Public footpaths run through the Reserve and are open all year providing vantage points to view across the Liverpool Basin to the Welsh Hills beyond, along the coastline to Southport and Blackpool and the Cumbrian hill. The footpaths also provide views into some of our meadows and woodlands and, in autumn, trees provide a colourful backdrop to a leisurely stroll. However for conservation reasons some of the woods are closed to public, and can only be accessed by prior appointment. Visiting groups please contact Jonathon.

Since 1996 the Trust has planted new areas of native woodland, a diverse habitat of 20,000 native trees, holly, oak, beech, rowan, hawthorn, scots pine, willow and crab apple. The meadows are traditional managed for hay (generates income) and for wildflowers, teasel, kidney vetch, birds foot trefoil, mallow, ox-eye daisies, meadow cranesbill, black knapweed, yarrow, selfheal, lady's bedstraw, harebell, St john's wort, field scabious, black medic, and cowslip (to name a few!) The grassland areas are home to field voles and mice. In winter the reserve has native sheep grazing such as North ronaldsay, Hebridean and Shetland breeds.

The trust has improved the diversity of many of the hedges using hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, field & guelder Rose. Over five miles of native hedgerow have been planted, restoring ancient field boundaries.

In 2005 an Orchard of apples, pears and plums were planted, organically managed featuring a diverse variety of heritage apples such as howgate wonder, keswick codlin, yorkshire aromatic, rosemary russet, worcester, james grieve, ribston pippin, and discovery. There are currently 100 trees in the orchard. Soft fruit and veg are also grown on the allotment/poly tunnels and can be purchased on site.

In the woodland areas a range of nestboxes have been put up, 80 in total. These have mainly been used by coal, blue and great tits, tree sparrows, little and tawny owl and kestrel. There are 14 stocked feeding stations dotted around the estate.
A bird count of the reserve has revealed over 50 species including the red listed yellowhammers, linnets, tree sparrows and willow tit.

The reserve in recent times has restored the ponds on the site; there are currently eight ponds on site with associated reed bed and wetland areas. The ponds are home to smooth, palmate and the rare Gt crested newts, toads and frogs. Typical wetland wildflowers flourish on the site such as marsh marigold, purple loosestrife, unbranched bur-reed, reedmace, common rush, yellow flag iris, ragged robin.
Five species of dragonflies have been recorded: Common darter, blue bodied damselfly, emerald damselfly, brown hawker and common hawker.
Many species of butterflies have been recorded: red admiral, comma, brimstone, Large white, peacock, meadow brown, speckled wood, orange tip, common blue, painted lady, small tortoiseshell, and gatekeeper.
Moth trapping is regularly undertaken between march and december. Some of the moths recorded: lesser swallow prominent, clouded drab, common pug, muslin moth, common carpet, scarce silver lines, small seraphim, dark marbled carpet, august thorn, square spot rustic, wainscot, and lesser yellow underwing, large yellow underwing, silver Y, setaceous hebrew character, mottled umber, and northern winter moth.
Small mammal recording is being completed on site. A ten year project started in 2008 using 35 Longworth traps. Species caught include woodmice, bank and field voles.

Gorse Hill Nature Reserve
Holly Lane
Ormskirk L39 7HB

The Visitor information cabin, small car park and access to the woodland walk in Cabin Wood is currently only available on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 9.30am - 4pm

Membership of the Northwest Ecological Trust is available; every penny goes directly toward the Gorse Hill reserve. As a charity the reserve relies on the support of its members to continue with its development and conservation work. With membership you will receive a newsletter 3 times a year and invitations to special events.
Individual £15, Family £25 under 16's £5

There are many volunteering activities available on the reserve, from planting wildflowers, helping in the allotment and orchard, fauna and flora surveys, and tending the bird feeding stations, nestboxes.

For more information on volunteering or becoming a supporter contact:
Jonathan Atkins. Lydiate Windmill, Liverpool Road, Lydiate, Merseyside L31 2LY.
Tel - 0151 5310067/1659