New Ferry Butterfly Park open day success

Wirral Wildlife planting wildflowers

A record number of visitors attended this year’s New Ferry Butterfly Park Open Day, which by the end of the day had received just over a 1,000 visitors.

The annual event which marks the start of the open season for the park, saw visitors enjoy maypole dancing, environmentally themed stalls and locally produced crafts, as well as the park’s wildflowers, wildlife and relaxing environment.

Two grants have helped the park to increase its attractions this year. A £280 grant from Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Natural Futures Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled volunteers to plant 400 wildflower plugs to enhance the park’s hedge banks, pond verges and grasslands. In addition, a £200 grant from the GIFT (Getting Involved, Finding Talents) Network, which aims to increase connectivity within the communities of Wirral South, has enabled the park to put up new artwork which will help promote the attraction.

150 woodland wildflower plugs, consisting of betony, common dog violet, primrose, greater stitchwort and wild strawberry, were planted along the boundary hedge and fifty ragged robin and fifty purple loosestrife plugs were planted around the pond dipping pond. The remaining plugs were common sorrel which were planted into ‘Charlie’s Field’, at the south end of the park. There was also a delightful surprise at ‘Charlie’s Field’ this year when it was discovered that over 40 Cowslips had naturally colonised the area following the start of a new mowing regime.

A planting event was held to plant the new plug plants which attracted regular volunteers as well as some new volunteers including students from Liverpool John Moores University’s Conservation Society. Ella Woodcock from the Conservation Society said “We were delighted to help at this community project and learn a little about butterfly ecology. We will be coming back. Whilst we were weeding purging buckthorn shrubs for the brimstone butterfly, a brimstone actually flew around us. It was great to see conservation in action.”

Frank Cotterell with framed picture nest to new banner

Frank Cotterell with framed picture nest to new banner

Beth Alvey, Natural Futures Volunteering and Training Manager at Cheshire Wildlife Trust said “It was great to see the connections between the volunteers, students, and local residents. If any other wildlife volunteering groups would like some assistance with volunteering opportunities, grants and training we’d love to hear from them”.

The Park’s new artwork was unveiled at the open day. It can clearly be seen by the Merseyrail travellers on the trains that pass alongside the park, so the banner will really put the park on the map. The striking banner was created by Callum Ramsay.

A framed print of a common blue butterfly was also presented to one the park’s longest serving volunteers, Frank Cottrell, who had been there since the park’s inception and, at 94, was retiring from being a park warden. In 1993, Frank was key in getting the local MP and the Cheshire Wildlife Trust involved in initiating the park. He enthused on how much he had enjoyed being a warden and encouraged others to get involved.

Paul Loughnane, honorary reserve manager at New Ferry Butterfly Park said “these grant funded projects were all in preparation for the park’s open season which is now underway each Sunday until mid September, from 12noon until 4pm”.