Monday, 5 February 2018

Volunteers needed for plastic clean-up at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh

Litter picking on the Ribble -RSPB

Staff at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh, are calling on local volunteers to help with their ‘Big Hesketh Out Marsh Clean-up’ event on Sunday 11 February.
Following recent high tides, the nature reserve at Hesketh Bank near Southport has seen a large amount of plastic and other debris deposited on the site, which poses a risk to wildlife and spoils the beauty of the area.
Gareth Tate, Warden at RSPB Ribble Reserves said: “RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh is part of the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve, an internationally important area that is home to a variety of wonderful wildlife. Whilst the recent high tides provided a fantastic spectacle for our visitors, bringing birds from the saltmarsh into close view, the downside is they also brought in lots of rubbish. Popular BBC programme ‘Blue Planet’ has highlighted the danger that plastic poses in our oceans, and the same applies to our estuaries like the Ribble. We hope lots of people will come along to the event to help clean up this beautiful spot. It’s also in ideal opportunity to meet like-minded locals, get out in the fresh air and put something back into your community.
The clean-up event is running from 10.30am-1pm and participants should meet at the Hesketh Out Marsh car park, Dib Road, Off Shore Road, Hesketh Bank, PR4 6XQ. Appropriate waterproof outdoor clothing and footwear should be worn along with work/garden gloves. Some litter pickers will be available, but people are encouraged to bring their own if they have them. For further details visit

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Ed Hutchings Petition - debate on Licensing Driven Grouse Shooting

Hi everyone,
Many of you will be aware that the RSPB are actively supporting (through social media, Natures Home and Campaigns Newsletters) the Ed Hutchings Petition to the UK Government, asking for a debate on Licensing Driven Grouse Shooting.(Licensing is the middle way between a ban  and doing nothing) 

Ed Hutchings has also launched a Thunderclap which you may wish to  support - If you are not familiar with what a Thunderclap is, details here:
The Thunderclap is due out on 9 February at 12pm so you will need to support it before then.
Once you have supported it, you have the option to then share the fact that you have supported it with your followers. Please do this and it will generate an automatic tweet/facebook post to show your followers you have supported the Thunderclap.
Inline image Bowland Betty deceased

Inline image Golden eagle - he didn't make it

As an individual you may believe in a ban, then consider signing  this -  Petition: Ban Driven Grouse Shooting

***At 100,000 signatures, these petitions will be considered for debate in Parliament ...
.....there are over 1 million RSPB members....RSPB Liverpool have over 160  members - have we reached you?

Inline image

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

This weekend join the nation in discovering which birds are visiting Merseyside gardens

Birdwatch Sparrows   Ben Hall

·         Spending an hour watching the birds in your garden this weekend will help provide the RSPB with an annual snapshot of the UK’s garden birds as more than half-a-million people take part in Big Garden Birdwatch.
·         Getting involved in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey is easy – simply spend an hour counting the birds that visit your garden and submit your results online.
·         Some resident British birds such as greenfinches, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits and long-tailed tits should be showing in good numbers after a positive breeding season and favourable winter weather conditions. 
The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is set to bring more than half-a-million people together this weekend (27, 28 and 29 January) as people uncover what is happening in their garden, helping to create an annual snapshot of how UK birds are doing.
Now in its 39th year, the Birdwatch is a chance for people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit their garden, to help the RSPB build up a picture of how our feathered friends are doing at this time of year.
Last year close to half-a-million people across the UK took part, including almost 6000 in Merseyside,making Big Garden Birdwatch the world’s biggest wildlife survey. Last year house sparrow was top of the list in the county, along with some other familiar species like robin, blackbird and starling in the top 10.
This year the RSPB is curious to see how these figures will change following a positive year for some of our resident British birds, such as greenfinches, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits and long-tailed tits. Numbers of greenfinches have been impacted by Trichomonosis for the last decade and the disease has been documented in other garden birds, such as chaffinches. More recently there was a downward trend in Big Garden Birdwatch sightings of the different tit species, which was thought to be linked to the prolonged wet weather in the 2016 breeding season.
However, the 2017 season appeared to be a good one for these resident birds which has fuelled speculation that this year could be a bumper weekend of sightings.
Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “At this time of the year your garden has the potential to be a vital source of food and shelter for the garden birds we all know and love, from the flock of starlings at the feeder to the robin perched on the fence. The Big Garden Birdwatch is all about enjoying the wildlife that comes to you and it’s really as simple as spending an hour looking out the window. You don’t need any special equipment, although a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake might be helpful. At the end of your hour, send us your results to tell us what you saw.”
Long tailed tit    John Bridges

“This year could be a bumper weekend of sightings for some of our resident British birds. Conditions during the breeding season were much better compared to recent years and our resident birds are likely to have been further helped by relatively kind autumn and winter weather. So keep your eyes peeled for the greenfinches, chaffinches and various tit species.”
With results from gardens from all corners of the UK, the RSPB is able to use the valuable data to build up a snapshot of the birds that are reliant on the food, water and shelter that can be found in our outdoor spaces at this time of the year. When combined with 38 years of data from previous Birdwatches, it allows the RSPB to monitor trends and understand which birds are struggling and are in need of our help.
The RSPB is also asking about the other wildlife seen in gardens over the last year, such as badgers, foxes, grey squirrels, red squirrels, muntjac deer, roe deer, frogs and toads, to help build an overall picture of how important gardens are in giving nature a home.
To take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018, simply spend an hour over the weekend watching the birds in your garden, outdoor space or local park. Once you have recorded the birds that make a visit, whether it’s a sparrow, starling or siskin, submit your results online at
Big Schools Birdwatch has been taking place in schools across the UK since the first week of January. Running until 23 February, it is a chance for children to put down their books and get outside to experience and learn about the nature that lives in their local community. To take part visit

Nature's home Starling    Eleanor Bentall

This table shows the top 10 birds seen in Merseyside gardens in 2017:

Average number per garden
% gardens seen
House sparrow
Blue tit
Great tit
Feral pigeon

Monday, 18 December 2017

Festive fun with the RSPB on the Dee

A Winterscape  Burton Mere

With the Christmas countdown well underway, get into the festive spirit at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands nature reserve. For those wanting a break from the hustle and bustle of the high streets, a visit to Burton Mere Wetlands is the perfect way to unwind this winter.
Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager at the RSPB Dee Estuary reserve said: “The reserve is at its busiest in winter, playing host to tens of thousands of wetland birds visiting from the far north – just like Father Christmas!
“Not only are the large flocks a sight to behold, winter is also the best time of year to see birds of prey, with marsh harriers, peregrines and merlins regularly hunting the flocks. All of this can be enjoyed beside our pellet stove with a mince pie and a hot drink in our cosy Reception Hide.”
The site offers plenty for families to do this festive season, with a free seasonal quiz to follow around the nature trails. Wildlife Explorer backpacks are available to hire daily for £3, complete with binoculars and other nature detective equipment, and there’s even a den building area in the woodland to make a shelter from the chillier weather.
Dan added: “The recent cold snap transformed the reserve into a picturesque winter wonderland, so it’s the perfect place for a bracing walk to work off those Christmas indulgences.”
Burton Mere Wetlands is open every day except Christmas Day, 9.30am-4.30pm, with an early close of 3pm on Christmas Eve and a late opening of 10.30am on Boxing Day.
For the more adventurous visitor, a High Tide Raptor Watch event is taking place at the wilder part of the Dee Estuary reserve – Parkgate.. Visitors have the chance to see the rare phenomenon of the water covering the whole marsh, reaching the sea wall. As well as closer views of thousands of ducks, geese and waders as they are forced upstream by the rising tide, visitors may also spot rare hen harriers in search of mice and voles that are flushed from the grasses.
The High Tide Raptor Watch takes place on Thursday 4 January from 10.30am-1.30pm and is free of charge, but donations are welcomed on the day. No booking is required but for further information check out the website, call the reserve on 0151 3538478 or email

Friday, 1 December 2017

How much would you miss birdsong? More than just a tweet

The Messenger, promotional poster

Last Sunday RSPB Liverpool screened the stunning and thought provoking film ‘The Messenger’ by SongbirdSOS productions.

RSPB Information stands outside Screen 3

Fifty four people attended our event and judging by the post screening reaction it had obviously achieved its aim.

The film is visually stunning and took us to far flung places such as Indonesia, Canada and France. This film was hard hitting and we couldn’t help be moved by  the issues it raised; at times maddening and upsetting such as the French man illegally  catching and eating ortolan buntings, the Indonesian bird markets, and the hundreds of migrating birds flying into high raise windows. Towards the end of the film we were treated to the sight of an expanding circle of 2,100 dead birds laid out on a museum floor, a strong image bringing tears to your eyes.
But this film wasn’t just made to shock, it showed some amazing people, monitoring birds and fighting back, from the man who turns out Manhattan’s 911 memorial lights (, and the CABS activists combating the  illegal killing or trapping of European birds   (
But there was a glimmer of hope for the future, as we observed Canadian children at the Royal Ontario museum tip toeing around and asking questions about all the dead birds on the floor? We must nurture their interest and educate our future generations.

After the film an informal discussion gave the audience a chance to let off steam, empathise and ask what you we can do to help birds.
Audience discussion on Indonesia. Ged Gorman

Maureen wins a the first raffle prize

Here’s a link to watch the Q & A session:
Some initial suggestions:
1. Install ultra violet window alert stencils at home and at work – available at various UK bird food supplier websites.
2. Campaign, sign the petitions, write letters, fundraise and if you can afford it donate…. Support the RSPB Love Nature,    RSPB Operation Turtle Dove   or   RSPB            Birds without Borders and BirdLife International
3. Buy bird-friendly coffee - Bird & Wild Coffee  Partnered with RSPB to give 6% of all sales to RSPB to help protect our birds, wildlife and nature in the UK, whilst protecting migrating birds at coffee origins

4. Cats - Put a bell on your cat's quick release mechanism collar and keep your cat indoors when birds are most vulnerable: at least an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise, especially during March-July and December-January, and also after bad weather, such as rain or a cold spell, to allow birds to come out and feed.

Raffle - lots of Bird &Wild Coffee prizes

It is hoped that our group will be able to bring this film to our members at an indoor event screening in the near future and more importantly be able to contribute in some way to help tackle the issues this film raises.
Here’s a link to watch the trailer:
Every DVD comes with a FREE bag of bird friendly-coffee from Bird& wild plus a promo code for future purchases. Bird & wild is on a mission to help protect migrating birds. Every bag of Bird & Wild coffee sold helps the RSPB, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre and the Fair-trade Foundation.
Here’s a link to the Bird & Wild shop:

A warning from the past: in 1957 Mao Tse-tung’s set about a campaign against tree sparrows that were eating the nation’s grain, subsequently hundreds of millions of sparrows were killed.  Achieving this aim contributed to a catastrophic ecological disaster which led to 30 million people dying of starvation.  We ignore this lesson at our peril, whether it is birds, bees, other wildlife or the planet’s natural resources. 

The Messsenger promotional poster
RSPB Liverpool

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

We're busy watching birdlife, all of the weekend through.

Starling Murmuration

A busy weekend started with a day out at WWT Martin Mere’s birdwatching festival. A diminutive fair compared to Rutland, more  intimate and confining, and  giving  some of our local organisations  a chance to sell their services like
More holiday providers were there
The event was well attended on both days, and I bumped into several friends out of our group during the course of the day.
If you had the time, there were some interesting talks on through the weekend and I know others have attended them, perhaps they’ll share their experiences. I opted for the Nick Baker guided walk, swan feed and starling murmuration viewing, oh and a spot of duck feeding, well you have to….
The Nick Baker (who had to leave Dartmoor at 3am to get to Martin Mere in time that morning!) walk was laid back and informative. Martin mere’s reserve manager Tom Clare adding additional narrative about the reserve along the way. It was surprising to hear that Nick hadn’t visited before, and you got the impression he was quite impressed by what it had to offer.
Nick Baker walk
If you were thinking this would just be a guided bird walk you’d be wrong; Nick chatted about all kinds of stuff including ivy leaf mining insects, the importance of holly to winter invertebrates and leaving damaged fallen trees were they fall, giving it the chance of regeneration such as the properties of willows. Reminiscing of laying on the floor whilst watching a crane fly being dissected by ants, climbing a favourite tree to watch badgers as a youngster and how this interest saved him during a particularly low period in his young life. We enjoyed laughing at the rats in the Janet Keir hide!! And seeing a kingfisher fishing from the Gladstone hide.
We wondered at the sight and sounds of pink foot skeins overhead and awkward whooper swan landing on the mere, more comical when there ice. More topical chat about birds seen on the reserves; like the incoming Scandinavian thrushes, redwings and fieldfares and putting apples out for them in your garden. Admiring the ruff on the mere and telling the different between godwits.
Video clip from his talk:
The swan feed was mainly a shelduck fest in front of the discovery hide, despite there being 15,000 pink footed geese and 1660 Whooper swans on site, always good to see the scrum with its accompanying cacophony. Pintail, teal, mallard, redshank, wigeon, ruff, godwits joined the throng.
Ruff & black tailed godwit

The starling murmuration is bringing in bigger crowds by the day, 50,000 starlings swirling about, great to see them closer to home than Sunbiggin, It’s certainly a good year to see the spectacle, as there’s one in Frodsham as well.

It was a beautiful sunny still day on Sunday, the perfect day for our group’s field trip to RSPB Hesketh out marsh; this is an exposed sight and can be quite unpleasant in winter, so we were fortunate for once with the weather. Unfortunately the peace and quiet was disturbed by the repetitive recall of gunfire from the local clay pigeon shoot behind the reserve; at least no wildfowl were being shot.

Twittering and moving through the hawthorn hedges we could see tree sparrows, linnets, goldfinches, long tailed tits, robin, blackbirds, fieldfare, redwing, song thrush and chaffinch. Pheasant, wood pigeon and a lapwing favoured the harvested sprout fields.  
On the marsh whistling wigeon outnumbered everything, others present included shelduck, teal, mallard, shoveler, a grey heron and a couple of paddling little egrets.  A couple of Whooper swan families numbering 10 individuals where on the back pools. 

A peregrine sat in a distant tree, later to be seen diving and   having an aerial scrap with a crow, whilst up to five marsh harriers were skimming the embankments below. A green wing tag which told us one of the female harriers had come from Norfolk, tagged by the North West Norfolk ringing group with hawk and owl trust.
Injured sparrowhawk
Other raptors included a kestrel hovering over the back fields and an injured female sparrowhawk; looking very sorry for herself, huddled close to the fence line, not so far away a shelduck carcass lay partially plucked on the mud bank. We can only surmise what might have happened to both birds

Scanning another pool two greenshank, their white plumage shining out alongside commoner redshank. A sprinkling of dunlin was present with black tailed godwits and a distant grey plover on a rear mudflat.
Sheep unperplexed as a flock fed alongside and over the footpath
A grey wagtail and several meadow pipits, foraged by the puddles on the path alongside the marsh edge.
Further along the path we found a ‘dopping’? of 11 female - goosanders, with two goldeneye and two great crested grebes.  We eventually found a single Spotted Redshank on the walk back, its long thin confirming its identity.Sporadic flocks of pink footed geese flew over heading in the direction of marshside, which is where we headed next.
The Marshside visitor centre was bustling with birders, so we decamped to Nel's hide to finish our trip. Sadly no dowicher had lingered but we were treated to additional sightings of snipe, gadwall and common gull.

Not a bad weekend at all.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Coming to a screen near you,.....How much would you miss birdsong? An invitation from RSPB Liverpool

Messenger promotion image

Heads up all members and bird friends.

RSPB Liverpool  are happy to announce that we are hosting a screening of a stunning and thought provoking film called The Messenger.  To be screened at the Picturehouse @ FACT cinema in Liverpool on Sunday 26 November 1pm . Rated PG, running time 90 minutes. 

All ticket holders will be entered into a raffle on the day including some goodie bags from the bird friendly coffee producers

After the screening all viewers are welcome to join the group in the cafe for an informal ‘ornithological social’  for anyone who wants to talk about the film, the issues it raises and more generally to find out  about the  RSPB’s activities in the area etc.

Tickets  available now from fact:

 Picturehouses - Cinema information for Picturehouse At Fact

Box office Number : 0871 902 5737

The Messenger is an essential film for anyone who cares about the environment and nature and full of insights and revelations for all audiences. It explores mankind’s deep-seated connection to songbirds and the devastating impact humans have had on bird species, from urbanisation, climate change and pesticides. 

Filmed across three continents The Messenger extends us a ‘birds’-eye view’ to offer fresh glimpses into epic migratory journeys while chronicling the struggle of songbirds worldwide to survive in turbulent environmental conditions. As scientists, activists and bird enthusiasts investigate this phenomenon, amazing secrets of the bird world come to light for the first time while beautiful slow motion photography illustrates the power and beauty of these delicate winged creatures.

The Messenger leaves viewers with a profound appreciation for the billions of birds with whom we share our communities and our planet – and with hope for our collective ability to turn the tide.  

Here’s a link to watch the trailer:

Messenger promotion image

Mark Avery (ex RSPB Conservation Director) : The Messenger is about the threats faced by songbirds – not just in the US and Canada but also in Europe and elsewhere.
It’s a good film and non-birders will probably find it just as compelling as those who, like me, sat through it with a self-generated commentary in their heads of bird names as different species appeared in view or in song.
There are some beautiful, and pretty much unique, images of birds in flight (taken in wind tunnels) and a lot of them in the wild too.  It is a vivid reminder of the fact that birds really are simply stunning – visually, vocally and because of the feats of migration they accomplish.
But life is tough for birds. The film started with issues and impacts such as collisions with buildings – probably a bigger issue in the US than in Europe (?) – but it moved on through trapping to the bigger issues of pesticides, land use and climate change. A lot of ground to cover (just like a migratory bird) but the film brought it home.
Hope to see you all there.....