Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Family fun at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands this February half term

Nesting Great tits
This month sees the British Trust for Ornithology’s annual National Nestbox Week (https://www.bto.org/about-birds/nnbw) take place, and the RSPB is running a fun family quiz trail at Burton Mere Wetlands to celebrate.


Available every day throughout February, families are invited to pick up a quiz sheet at reception between 9.30 am-4.30 pm and follow the trails to discover the variety of nestboxes available to help give nature a home. It is free to take part, though normal admission charges apply to non-members.
There are also Wildlife Explorer backpacks to hire for budding nature detectives and a den building area in the woods to get active and creative.

Whilst some winter flocks will be preparing to leave towards the end of February, others like the iconic avocets normally start arriving at Burton Mere Wetlands around the middle of the month.

From Wednesday to Sunday each week, visitors can pick up some lunch from the on-site catering van, offering a range of hot and cold sandwiches, toasties, paninis and burgers.
Sausage or Bacon? Decisions


Venue: RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands nature reserve, Puddington Lane, Burton, Cheshire, CH64 5SF.

Contact: For further details visit rspb.org.uk/deeestuary.org.uk or phone the visitor centre on 0151 353 8478.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Family fun at RSPB Leighton Moss this February half term




This month celebrates The Climate Coalition’s ‘Show the Love’ campaign. Families are invited to discover the climate change stories of Leighton Moss with a special ‘Show the Love’ family trail. Drop-in between 9.30 am-4 pm on Saturday 11-Sunday 26 February. It is free to take part, normal admission charges apply to non-members. 

Families visiting Leighton Moss this half term can also get creative with The Climate Coalition’s ‘Show the Love’ green heart making. By making green hearts and hanging them on the Leighton Moss climate change tree, families can show their support for wildlife in the face of climate change. Drop-in between 9.30 am-4 pm on Friday 17-Monday 20 February.  It is free to take part, normal admission charges apply to non-members. 

‘Things with wings’ is an exciting art workshop with Morecambe Bay Partnership. Visitors can discover patterns in nature using tissue paper, glue and string to create a special stained glass effect with artist Hilli McManus. Sessions take place on Sunday 12 February at 10 am-12.30 pm or1.15-3.45 pm and cost £2.50 per child. Booking is essential via: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/things-with-wings-tickets-30486212081

On any day throughout February, families can also take part in the ‘Love Birds’ family trail to discover more about how birds are partnering up at this time of year. Drop-in between 9.30 am-4 pm. It is free to take part, normal admission charges apply to non-members. 

Venue: RSPB Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay nature reserve, Myers Farm, Storrs Lane, Silverdale, LA50SW.

Contact: For further details visit rspb.org.uk/leightonmoss or phone the visitor centre on 01524 701601.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH - 2017 EVENT


Busy Kids in the Palm House
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Well, maybe a tad over-dramatic, but sometimes the weather makes you feel like that. Saturday dawned, - the day of our 'Big Garden Birdwatch' at Sefton Park’s Palm House, and yes it was raining again; - we shouldn’t be surprised, but we’re English and it’s a national past time talking about the weather!
This year we broke from tradition and actually held the event on the national birdwatch weekend instead of the week before.
Our aim, to tell as many people as possible about the RSPB’s 'Big Garden Birdwatch' which now covered three days Saturday 28th to Monday 30th January, giving more people a chance to record their feathered friends.
Warm and dry in the Palm House, grey and damp outside! Despite the precipitation we had a steady stream of visitors at our stalls. All kinds of questions were fired at us:- how to attract birds, squirrel proof-bird feeders, best food, gardening and best plants, what’s that bird, how do you tell the difference, how do I join, where can I buy,  problem cats and magpies, 
where’s the kingfishers, where’s the parakeets (popular residents of the park).

Female kingfisher
Mr Ring necked parakeet

National Wildflower Centre

Whilst we were there we took the opportunity to promote a petition to help re-launch the National Wildflower Centre in Court Hey Park. Recently closed, the staff and volunteers are desperately trying to rally support for its revival. http://nwc.org.uk/
An important local community resource which must not be allowed to disappear.

Our friends on the national RSPB table Derek and Joan, were kept busy and we were very pleased to hear five national memberships had been taken up.

Derek in charge
Derek and Joan volunteer at the RSPB’s Burton Mere Wetlands reserve on the Wirral http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/find-a-reserve/reserves-a-z/reserves-by-name/d/dee-burtonmerewetlands/index.aspx
and their presence at the Palm House meant they had the opportunity to highlight the reserves attractions to hopefully future visitors.

Our Wildlife Explorers (Wex) group, aimed at young people- (http://www.rspb.org.uk/groups/liverpoolwex),  also had lots of visitors and children were observed happily ‘colouring in’ and making masks with the Palm house volunteers.
Proud Joe and uncle Terry


John and youngsters












Whilst most of the team were based inside advising and selling at our tables,- Phil placed our telescopes in the entrance porch focused on the garden’s bird tables (pre -stocked with seed, fat and scraps) and on the surrounding trees. Parakeets and flocks of redwings were seen in the trees whilst on the tables all the usual foragers were seen including numerous nuthatches caching sunflower hearts; great, coal and blue tits, magpies, robins, wood pigeons, jays, crows and squirrels and yes one large rat!  
Nuthatch









A little further a field Chris took an inquisitive young man and his dad onto the adjacent playing fields to look for two Mediterranean gulls. Successful, all part of the service!
Med gull in front
Chris and Med gull seekers


Another volunteer’s insight:
The one moment that really stands out for me is when a little boy aged around three or four was totally overjoyed by the 'singing' blackbird toy. A lot of children were interested in the bird toys, but this little boy's reaction was outstanding: when we made it sing, his eyes were like saucers and he couldn't stop laughing and clapping his hands together. His mum was crouched down next to him and she was amazed at his reaction, too, so it didn't seem to be something he did for just any old thing. In fact, he was so excited and thrilled by the blackbird's song that he accidentally pushed against his mum as she was crouching down, and she over-balanced! He kept coming back over to the table and listening to all the birds, but the blackbird was by far his favourite.  http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/sale-offers-promotions/gifts-home-offers/rspb-singing-blackbird-soft-toy.html 



Shore larks
A second memorable moment was the first people through the door, a father and his son of around nine years old. The lad had a book of coastal and sea birds tucked under his arm and was obviously a budding RSPB leader of the future - his dad drove him everywhere to see the birds and they took photos of them and stuck them into this book, and he proceeded to tell John and me all about them, pointing out the rare shore lark that they'd snapped and later ID'd, and a number of other birds. 
Debra

We’re pleased to say we engaged with 274 visitors to the Palm House and six people joined our local group. Welcome! 😉 

                                                    **********************

Once again we have undertaken a mini Merseyside birdwatch count:- 26 households across Merseyside, Rainford and Newton sent in their counts, which you can see in the table below. 
This year I’m pleased to say most people were happy with their counts with only a few describing their results and experiences as - disappointing with favourite birds arriving late. The response from the RSPB to ‘bad’ years was to extend this year's count to three days, perhaps it did the trick? 
I’m sure you’ll draw your own conclusions from the table below

SPECIES
NO’ OF GDNS
SEEN IN
TOTAL NOS OF
BIRDS
SEEN
RANK
By no’s seen
RANK 
By gardens found in
Red
Amber
Green
BLACKBIRD
21
58
4th
2nd

WREN
6
6
16
10

BLUE TIT
23
49
6
1st

GREAT TIT
17
26
8
4th j

COAL TIT
10
13
14
8

LONG TAILED TIT
6
11
15
10

ROBIN
19
25
9
3rd

BLACKCAP
3
3
17
12

STARLING
9
59
3rd
9
   R
DUNNOCK
12
19
10
7
   A
HOUSE SPARROW
13
52
5th
6
   R
FERAL PIGEON
13
63
2nd
6

WOOD PIGEON
17
34
7
4th j

COLLARED DOVE
9
15
13
9

GOLDFINCH
13
102 
1st
6

CHAFFINCH
10
18
11
8

GREENFINCH
9
16
12
9

JAY
1
1
1+
14

JACKDAW
4
11
15
11

MAGPIE
14
25
9
5th

CROW
3
3
17
12

LESSER BLACK BACK GULL
1
1
19
14
   A
NUTHATCH
2
3
17
13

GT SPOTTED WOODPECKER
3
3
17
12

SONG THRUSH
1
1
19
14
   R
PIED WAGTAIL
1
2
18
14

GREY WAGTAIL
2
3
17
13
   R
SPARROWHAWK
1
1
19
14

BLACK HEADED  GULL
1
1
19
14
   A
REED BUNTING
1
1
19
14
   A
PHEASANT           
1
1
19
14

BUZZARD
1
1
19
14


GREY SQUIRRELS  4 households, 7 individuals  HEDGEHOGS 2 households, 2 individuals



I was not surprised to see goldfinches at the top as these birds have been in the ascendancy in recent years, and numbers were still trending upwards despite only visiting half of our households.
Once again feral pigeons got in on the act, much to the annoyance of some households - the hated 'rats with wings!'
Blue tits topped the table for birds most likely to be seen with 23 of 26 households reporting. Black birds were close behind
I was pleased to see an increase in starling numbers: a 78% increase with one extra household reporting them.
Our sparrow numbers were the same, although 13 households now reported them, up from eight in 2015.
Nor was I surprised to see wood-pigeon in the top 10 either, increasing in numbers and in households seen. These birds are moving in to suburbia from their more traditional farmland habitat.
There was a very poor return for thrushes, only one was seen, a sign of the times, and no Scandinavian visitors - fieldfare & redwing. Perhaps the weather was too mild.

For those of you who have enjoyed taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch and would like to record more, please consider joining the BTO Garden BirdWatch , this will involve you recording your birds every week and uploading them to the BTO website. The count includes other nature sightings such as insects & mammals and also records the type of food you put out, more recently they have included your sightings of diseased & dead specimens.


Many thanks to all those who took part in my little survey, I hope you find it of interest. Please free to add your comments and observations, on our blog.



Merseyside 2016
1
Merseyside
House sparrow
2
Merseyside
Blackbird
3
Merseyside
Starling
4
Merseyside
Woodpigeon
5
Merseyside
Blue tit
6
Merseyside
Goldfinch
7
Merseyside
Magpie  
8
Merseyside
Robin
9
Merseyside
Great tit
10
Merseyside
Feral pigeon