Monday, 11 September 2017

Have a wildlife adventure this autumn with the RSPB

Child investigating soil creatures

Now that the summer holidays are over and the kids are back at school, staff and volunteers at RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve near Silverdale are keen to make sure that children continue to get face to face with nature. 

Teachers and parents looking for ways to engage children with wildlife are encouraged to plan fun, educational visits or take part in family-friendly events at Leighton Moss, with these activities also counting towards the RSPB’s ongoing ‘Wild Challenge’.

Carol Bamber, Learning Officer at Leighton Moss said: “Young children are naturally drawn to wildlife and can’t get enough of exploring the outdoors. We appreciate that it’s not always easy for busy teachers or families to find the time to help nurture that interest, so we have created lots of great, educational events and experiences to bring the wonder of our natural world alive. Following a visit to Leighton Moss, they can then continue their adventure with our Wild Challenge.” 

The RSPB’s ambition is to help more children across the country reap the benefits of spending time outdoors, discovering the natural world around them. Research has shown that children who have a healthy connection to nature are more likely to benefit from higher achievement at school, better mental and physical health, and develop stronger social skills.

With the wildlife on people’s doorsteps becoming increasingly mysterious to them, the RSPB is calling on families to spend more time outside and reconnect with the nature that surrounds them.

By taking part in a range of activities such as bug hunting and pond dipping, creating a hedgehog cafe and planting for wildlife, families can take their first steps on their own wild adventure. The RSPB’s Wild Challenge has 24 activities to choose from that will take families from exploring back gardens to towns, cities, woodlands and the coast. Schools can also take part and there are rewards for completing different levels.

Find out more about school visits to Leighton Moss by visiting and clicking on the Leighton Moss pin. To learn more about the RSPB Wild Challenge for families visit  To start Wild Challenge as a school

Saturday, 2 September 2017

New book details Cheshire’s history of rare bird sightings

A new book documenting the history of Cheshire and Wirral’s rarest bird sightings is set to be launched at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, near Neston.

Written by two of the RSPB Dee Estuary reserve’s local birdwatchers, Allan Conlin and Eddie Williams, with drawings by renowned illustrator Ray Scally, ‘Rare and Scarce Birds of Cheshire and Wirral’ is a must-have for any Cheshire or Merseyside bird enthusiast.

The event takes place on Saturday 9 September between 10am and 4pm. No booking is required.

The book will be available to purchase, priced £24.99 with 10% of sales on the day to be donated to the RSPB Dee Estuary reserve. Only cash can be accepted for book purchases.

The date coincides with the first day of the Wirral Wader Festival, handy for anybody attending the events at nearby Hoylake and West Kirby.

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

Contact: For further details visit or phone the visitor reception on 0151 353 8478 or email

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Rare egret joins more common cousins at RSPB nature reserve

Cattle Egret...Phil Woollen

Staff at the RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve are celebrating this summer after an unusual bird – the cattle egret – nested for the first time at their Burton Mere Wetlands site near Neston. Viewers of BBC Springwatch may have seen the nest featured on the show in May, and now visitors are being encouraged to see one of the birds up-close.
Locals and visitors to the reserve will be familiar with the hundreds of little egrets living on the estuary, but prior to this year the much rarer cattle egret had managed just two previous breeding attempts in the entire UK, both in south west England.
As their name suggests, cattle egrets are usually found around cattle and many people recognise them from nature documentaries where they often feature around herds of zebras, wildebeest and water buffalo in sub-Saharan Africa. With bright white feathers, these relatives of the more familiar grey heron are beautiful to see and fairly easy to spot.
Colin Wells, Site Manager at the RSPB Dee Estuary said: “We’ve watched excitedly as little egrets rapidly colonised the Dee Estuary over the past couple of decades, with a total of 84 pairs nesting here this year. Their close relatives, cattle egrets, have been a regular visitor over the past six years since Burton Mere Wetlands opened, usually in the autumn when we have cattle grazing on the reserve.
“Egrets, along with other heron-like birds such as spoonbills, have gradually moved into the UK as their historic breeding areas in Europe are becoming hotter and drier due to climate change.
“Last year we had a record six cattle egrets at one point, but it was surprising to see at least two stay through the winter, even when the cattle were taken indoors to avoid the harsh weather. The birds felt so at home, we were delighted when they stayed to nest in amongst the established little egret colony.”
The pair successfully raised one chick, but they quickly left the area after the youngster flew the nest. However, with cattle grazing the reserve again, one cattle egret has returned and there is hope more will follow.
Colin added: “Visitors have been getting brilliant close views of the cattle egret from the comfort of the Reception Hide. There’s no guarantee how long it will stay, so if you fancy a look at one of these exotic birds close to home, come for a visit soon.”
For more information on wildlife spectacles, facilities and events at Burton Mere Wetlands, visit

Friday, 11 August 2017

Hen Harrier Day 2017 Dunsop Bridge

Another great Hen Harrier day for the RSPB Liverpool Away team

With Natalie Bennett Green MP

Watch all the excellent speakers, video of the event on the Raptor politics home page:


Patrick's Camargue adventrue

Got to La Crau around 07:30 and it was already 34C! 
On approach Road had Hoopoe and a dozen or so Short-toed Lark. Also had Stone Curlew in a field plus 15 White Stork. On reaching the car park, immediately clocked 4 Black Kite and more than a dozen Kestrel. Closer inspection revealed at least two, probably three male Lesser Kestrel. Scanning around also picked up three Montagu's, two female and one juvenile. A further scan picked up a splendid Iberian Shrike, it's 'curly' eyebrow showing up well, despite the heat haze which was already bad. Also found another couple of Stone Curlew. Was then joined by a Dutch birder and we set off together across the lunar landscape toward the converted sheep barn. On the way there we flushed a lark. When it settled again, I got my scope on it and thought it wasn't a Sky or ST. Dutch guy reckoned it was a Calandra, but, I wasn't wholly convinced. It keep its back to us most of the time so we couldn't really see the black breast patches. When it did turn briefly, there were only what I would describe as hints of patches. Dutch guy was fairly convinced however, so, I'd like a second opinion. I took a bit of video and will upload to Birdforum.  Despite thorough scanning from the barn, we couldn't pick anything else up so headed back to the car park. Driving slowly back up the track, I immediately clocked a pair of Roller! My most sought after bird of the day 😃Then the Dutch guy pointed out another to their left. I then set off for Entressen dump, via the nearby Etang in the hope of seeing Egyptian Vulture.
BW Stilt
The lake contained at least one pair of breeding BW Stilt plus a Great White Egret. On arrival at the dump, it was clear that the place had not been used for a while, especially as it was bereft of birds apart from a single Black Kite. Hadn't realised! However, driving around the perimeter, I managed to see 5 different Rollers, so, clearly a bit of a hotspot for them that I hadn't been aware of before. I then followed the other minor road back to the other side of the Peau De Meau reserve and this produced yet another Roller and, unexpectedly, a Wild Boar, that ran through a stream that I was looking up. 

I then made the decision to make my way back to Frejus, as it was already 3pm and I hadn't really left enough time to do justice to the Camargue (next time). There then followed the nightmare journey from hell, nearly 6 hours to do what should have been a 1 and a half hour journey! The A8 had been shut due to a logging truck smashing through the central reservation and spilling its load across all carriageways. The delay was further compounded by problems with the crane they used to try and remove the logs!

So, in conclusion, no Little Bustard but still some quality birds and a few lifers to boot. Very happy and still plenty left to explore next year when we are more than likely back again

Monday, 7 August 2017


Monday, 10 July 2017

Conservationists alarmed by killing of protected birds in Lancashire

·         Large numbers of a protected bird killed on a grouse moor
·         RSPB calls on Natural England to take urgent action

The RSPB has learned that large numbers of protected birds are being killed on a grouse moor in Lancashire.

A RSPB staff member working in the Bowland area discovered two estate workers shooting nesting lesser black-backed gulls - on a grouse moor managed by the Abbeystead Estate - leaving their chicks to be either killed by dogs or left to starve. 

Lesser blacked-backed gulls have been nesting on the moors of Lancashire for more than 80 years. The recovering colony in Bowland is one of the most important in the UK and is protected under British and European law, having once been in excess of 20,000 pairs. Lesser blacked-backed gulls are declining across the UK and the RSPB is becoming increasing worried about their future in the UK. 

This species can only be legally culled if they pose a threat to human health, risk spreading disease or are having a negative effect on other species of conservation concern. The RSPB understands Natural England - the government agency for responsible for protecting the countryside – granted consent for the cull. But while the nature conservation organisation has repeatedly asked Natural England for scientific evidence which would justify a cull, none has been forthcoming. 

Although the RSPB has yet to see the full details of the consent, it has reason to believe that the landowner may have breached both the letter and the spirit of the agreement, and is calling on Natural England to investigate the matter urgently. 

Graham Jones, RSPB Conservation Area Manager for North West England, said: “We are devastated that this cull of a protected species has been taking place, apparently without any justification. 

“Although it may occasionally be necessary to cull a small number of large gulls for conservation and health reasons, there is absolutely no evidence to support it in this case.

“We want Natural England to tell us why they think the gulls at Bowland met the legal criteria for a cull and also want them look into whether the terms of an already flawed agreement have been broken.

“Bowland should be a safe place for this declining species and Natural England should be focussing on helping the colony’s recovery.”

“We believe the only reason these protected birds are being killed is simply to satisfy the requirements resulting from the ongoing unsustainable approach to grouse moor management.”