New chairman delivers a very positive report on progress in 2017
Expert ornithologists within the group have established links with the British Trust for Ornithology and lead members on regular bird and bat surveys to contribute to local and national data recording reports. Now established a significant habitat for the very rare Willow Tit the group host other ornithologists on field visits and are frequently invited to visit other important wildlife sites.
Surveys have revealed that the number of species using the area has increased from 69 identified bird species in 2016 to 74 in 2017. The most unusual sightings recently have been ravens that are not normally seen on this type of terrain. The rare “red listed” willow tits have put in regular appearances on surveys and appear to be thriving.
Improving facilities for the public
Working with officials from local councils, the visitor experience has been progressively improved with a picnic area close to the Green Lane and in consultation with the Environment Agency, at Woolston Lock a viewing area has been developed within the flood defence scheme overlooking a beautiful stretch of river. The group also contributed greatly to new public information boards being place along the New Cut Canal.
Funding and public events
Members of the group have been anxious to involve the local public and took their display to a number of local events including both Woolston Show and Walton Hall Country Fair whilst they had their own highly successful open day at Paddington House. Talks and presentations by local historians and ecologists were held at Alford Hall.
Equipment purchases have been funded by grants from Warrington Charities Trust and Community Chest, with other gifts and fundraising assisting. Secure storage has been donated and all tools and display equipment is safely under lock and key.
2018 An Exciting year is planned
Building on the success of last year the group plan to develop new activities in the forthcoming few months beginning with practical training on hedge laying and basket weaving and working with the local ranger service to develop areas of wetland to extend the areas suitable for willow tits and possibly great crested newts.
A programme of events and talks is currently being planned
Strong ties with the Carbon Landscape team will assist with resources and potential funding and the group will support Warrington Borough Council as it looks to improve access to the meadows.
Kevin Price Chairman –New Cut Heritage and Ecology Group said “ This area, once despoiled by C19th industry, is unique being the last complete section of the historic Mersey and Irwell Navigation and now having both an increasing role as “green space” for local people and wildlife habitat. The support we have enjoyed from local authorities and the Environment Agency has been first class and contributed to the high morale of our volunteer workforce”