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Issue:- 17/18 March 2010

Spring Birds Flock to North West Nature Reserves

FOLLOWING the coldest winter in over 30 years, North West National Nature Reserves are starting to see the first signs of warmer weather in the region as migrating birds flock to the area and herald the start of spring.

Spring is the time when the natural world is on the move. Millions of migrating birds provide one of the most exhilarating signs of lighter days ahead as new species start arriving for the summer and winter residents return to their traditional breeding grounds. Natural England’s National Nature Reserves (NNRs) are a great place to see some of this astonishing seasonal movement in action.

On NNRs up and down the country, spring sees the return of migratory waders, such as golden plover and curlew; while whinchat and ring ouzel start to appear on our upland heaths and moors. From late-March to mid-May, swallows pass through in their thousands; yellow wagtails and whitethroats return from their African wintering grounds to breed on England’s lowland farmland; and redwings and fieldfares return to Scandinavia to breed.

There are 31 National Nature Reserves across four counties in the North West of England and they offer ideal opportunities for observing birds and wildlife. Nearly all have hides, trails and viewing areas and spring is an especially good time to visit, with birds arriving daily for the summer and winter visitors preparing to depart.

“The arrival of our migrant breeding birds is a treat for wildlife watchers  and National Nature Reserves provide some of the best safe havens for both these long-distance travellers and for our resident species. It reminds us what an important resource these reserves are and how important they are to the future of our wildlife.” said Poul Christensen, Chair of Natural England.

With spring around the corner, here’s Natural England’s guide to the best bird migration hotspots on North West National Nature Reserves:-

North-West England - Finglandrigg Woods National Nature Reserve, Cumbria

Departing redwings and fieldfares fly overhead and the first chiffchaff arrives. The nuthatch is a recent colonist here and can usually be heard calling whilst warblers such as blackcap, garden warbler and willow warbler arrive. On early mornings and evenings the skulking grasshopper warbler can be heard ‘reeling’ from patches of rush pasture and scrub.

North Walney National Nature Reserve, Cumbria

Flocks of waders gather at the high tide roosts before beginning their spring migration northwards. Off the coast migrating sea ducks such as common scoter and eider can be seen, whilst resident waterfowl start to nest on the pools – look out for mute swans, dabchicks, teal and tufted ducks. The reed fringes are full of reed buntings, and by late eApril are joined by sedge warblers.

On sunny days wheatears move up the coast towards their breeding grounds in the Cumbria Fells, whilst rarer passage migrants can include hoopoe and dotterel. On the dune heath there are stonechats and meadow pipits and the air is full of the trilling songs of skylarks.

The Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve

Most wildfowl have departed for their breeding grounds by spring, geese remain into May. Passage waders stop off here to ‘refuel’ before continuing their long flights northwards.

High tides push the birds close inshore where they can be seen in breeding plumage. The calls and displays of breeding lapwing and redshank can be heard and seen on the saltmarsh.

Cabin Hill National Nature Reserve, Merseyside

In 1970 a flood bank was created by the water authority to protect low-lying land behind the dunes from tidal surges. This left wet slack areas on either side which have since become important for wildlife including natterjack toads.

The shore provide feeding and roosting grounds for many migrating and over-wintering birds including knot, grey plover and bar-tailed godwit. Also seen on the site are song thrush, reed bunting, linnet and skylark.


CLIFTON Asset Management survey says rate of job losses will increase – and business owners see little improvement in bank lending situation.

The recession may officially be over, but small business owners in the North West believe a full recovery is a long way off as they continue to be hampered by the freeze in bank lending.  Just 65% say they have seen no general improvement in bank lending or facilities for SMEs, despite the introduction of the Government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme.

The figure – revealed in the latest quarterly survey of over 1,000 businesses from Clifton Asset Management (CAM) - is the highest of any region in England and Wales.  According to the research 26% of SMEs in the North West have made job cuts in the past 6 months, with 15% saying they will have to reduce their payroll further in the next half-year. This is in line with the national average, but represents a 6% increase on the previous quarterly figure.  And 67% of North West firms believe the recession effectively has another year or more to run, the highest figure of any English region.

Despite this some 10% of business owners in the region said they believe Labour will win the forthcoming General Election if they were the only voters. Again, this is the highest figure anywhere in England, although this is far fewer than the 53% who named the Conservatives.

The state of the economy continues to have a major impact on business owners’ retirement plans although the situation is improving, according to the latest CAM survey.

Some 72% of North West business owners say their retirement is further away now than it was a year ago, compared to 85% in the last quarterly survey.  The main reasons given for delaying retirement are tougher trading and market conditions (53%) and declining property and pension values (27%).  In terms of retirement age, 60-65 remains the most popular option in the survey (40%), with 17% saying they have no plans to retire, down from 21%.

Neil Greenaway, managing director at Clifton Asset Management, said:- “How people view their retirement prospects is a crucial part of our survey, so a fall in the number of business owners who see retirement moving further away has to be good news.  However despite Government assurances, our survey clearly shows that businesses in the North West are still not seeing many signs of an easing in the bank lending gridlock.  Our latest survey is confirmation, if it were needed, that the recovery will be a long, drawn-out and patchy process, and it speaks volumes that over two-thirds of those surveyed in the North West believe a full recovery to be at least a year away, with increasing numbers of business owners also planning to make job cuts in the coming months.”


DO you agree with UNION who say that “Waiting lists would grow and patients suffer if hospital beds are cut.” This was the warning given by UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union, on 17 March 2010. The union reacted angrily to proposals by the think tank Reform, for the number of NHS hospital beds to be slashed by 30,000, calling them “irresponsible”. Karen Jennings, UNISON Head of Health, said:- “Waiting lists would grow and patients suffer if hospital beds are cut. Reform’s proposal to slash 30,000 NHS beds is irresponsible and ill- thought through. The shift from acute hospital care into a community based setting must be a managed and seamless process. The NHS cannot afford to lose the highly skilled staff who currently work on the wards that would close. Reform’s proposals may save money, but will do nothing to save lives.”

Vandalism In A South, Liverpool Cemetery....

MERSEYSIDE Police have started an investigation into an incident of vandalism at a cemetery in South Liverpool where several gravestones have been knocked over. Police were called to Toxteth Cemetery on Saturday, 13 March 2010 when staff on site discovered the damage. A forensic search of the area was carried out and local officers are keen to hear from anyone with information. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crimestoppers on:- 0800 555 111.

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