An event hosted by Neston Town Council, with partner organisations the RSPB and the Merseyside and West Lancashire Bat Group (M&WLBG) took place at St Thomas’ Church in Parkgate this week.
These organisations had recognised the need to engage with the public in the Neston area regarding mosquito control, given the desire to balance conservation and environmental matters with the comfort and safety of local residents.
The evening was well attended by over 50 members of the public along with Carl Murphy (Cheshire West and Chester Council, Duncan Revell (Environment Agency) and Sarah Bennett (Cheshire Region Biodiversity Partnership).
Colin Wells, Site Manager of the RSPB Dee Estuary Nature Reserve, gave a 15 minute presentation about the RSPB’S involvement with regards to the reserve and marshes around Neston. The RSPB also spoke about the current state of affairs with regards to Mosquito Control and how, in certain areas of the Marshes, they have been able to control the Mosquito larvae problem to some extent by developing larger ponds where fish and birds can feed on the larvae and other insects.
The local authority are continuing to spray the marshes and a meeting has been arranged on Sept 22nd with the relevant bodies to discuss some of the management/drainage issues on the marshes especially in the Parkgate area.
Charlie Liggett from M&WLBG then gave a 15 minute presentation on the different types of bat boxes, with details on optimum location, probable occupancy and the laws with regards to checking occupancy. Charlie also gave an insight into the different species of bats (of which there are 18 in the UK) and stated that the Wirral in particular has quite a healthy population of certain species.
Charlie then gave the public the opportunity to ask questions. One question of particular interest was that if bats were to take up residence in your loft space or similar, would that mean that, as bats are protected, you could no longer have any work or improvements done to your home.
This is in fact not true, and it depends on seasons. It does mean that you always need to ask for advice from Natural England if you have a bat roost in your property and that work can usually be carried out during the months October to April inclusive. For more information, contact the Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228. There are a number of volunteer bat workers on the Wirral who would be glad to drop in and give advice.
There then followed a walk along the Parade towards the Boathouse, joined by 50 members of the public, two dogs and some bat detectors, which were provided not only by M&WLBG and RSPB, but also the general public. There are obviously as many Bat watchers as well Bird Watchers in the area!
This gave the public an opportunity to ask more questions and get a further understanding of the marshes and environment. The only problem with regards to walking down the parade at this time of the evening was those pesky Mosquitoes!!. However we were fortunate enough to see a few Pipistrelle and Noctule bats along the way.
For more information.
Charlie Liggett would prefer if anyone requires any information with regards to bats that you email him directly – firstname.lastname@example.org. If anybody wishes to purchase a Bat Box then please contact Charlie, who can supply either bat boxes complete for £10, or a bit cheaper for the bat box kits.
You can also visit the Bat Conservation website.
As a final note, it was fantastic to see the response from local people to the event being held in the newly re-opened ‘Fisherman’s Church.’ St Thomas’ looks fabulous and it is being well received that Parkgate finally has a community hall of its own.
On behalf of Neston Town Council, RSPB and M&WLBG, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jill Pratt (St Thomas’ Church Warden), for her wonderful hospitality. A really lovely lady!
Cllr Martin Barker
Neston Town Council