6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Why we should celebrate the diversity of wildlife in Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 October 2017

A starling murmuration over Brockholes by Pat Aitchison

A starling murmuration over Brockholes by Pat Aitchison

not Archant

While conservation work is important globally, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust is stressing the need to think locally too. Alan Wright discusses the important of wildlife close to home.

Starling are beautiful birds Starling are beautiful birds

South Africa...wide open game reserves, lions roaring, elephants trumpeting and roaming wildebeest. We all have our own images.

Just listen to the names of the game reserves – Addo Elephant National Park, Camdeboo, Golden Gate Highlands, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Kruger National Park, Lion Sands, Mala Mala, Mapungubwe, Mountain Zebra National Park, Waterberg Biosphere and Zulu Nyala. All have a little bit of romance about them.

Most of these include the ‘Big Five’ - the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard – all attracting tourists from far and wide. And without these reserves these animals might now be extinct.

So how do we compete with this vast array of iconic species in Lancashire? Well, there are wildlife spectacles here that do compete. As winter approaches we can look forward to murmurations of up to 2,000 starlings at Blackpool, Brockholes and Leighton Moss.

Hundreds of thousands of geese and wading birds will be making for Morecambe Bay to overwinter away from their Scandinavian nesting grounds.

We are lucky that badgers and foxes, our largest predators wander around our woodland and sometimes encroach into our towns and cities. Herds of deer will also become more noticeable as they join up for winter warmth.

Grey lag geese Number One Pit at Brockholes Grey lag geese Number One Pit at Brockholes

We have spectacular birds of prey – kestrel and buzzard will continue to hunt over the colder months and we have had had fleeting visits from osprey and red kite, both close to returning next summer, hopefully to breed.

And our nature reserves are just as important as any other in the world as we strive to protect and create habitats for some exceptional wildlife. Mere Sands Wood has its kingfishers and Lunt Meadows has short-eared owls.

At Wigan Flashes we have ten percent of the UK’s population of willow tits. OK, it is a lot smaller than the giraffe, but it is the UK’s most endangered small bird. The Flashes, Brockholes and Lunt Meadows are often visited by a larger rarity, the bittern. Again we are hoping they will breed in the reed beds as they become more established here.

Have you ever witnessed thousands of tiny toads heading from ponds across paths to dry land? It happens here every summer as the toadlets seek a safe home over winter. A wildlife miracle under your feet.

Red squirrels are our poster boys and girls for Merseyside, because they have been driven to a small outpost around Formby. We see grey squirrels every day so catching a glimpse of a red is such an uplifting experience.

The red squirrels would definitely be part of our Big Five. What else? Badger, otter, hen harrier and water vole, all in danger in our region for one reason or another. Or would it be the five that are on the majority our reserves? Brown hare, fox, skylark, kestrel and robin.

Tiny toads can be seen wandering across paths in summer by Alan Price Tiny toads can be seen wandering across paths in summer by Alan Price

The key objective of The Wildlife Trusts is to protect wildlife for the future. Our work on reserves and in a variety of projects helps us to monitor both common and threatened species and their habitats. Our conservation work and expertise helps us to increase biodiversity in the region. This will protect wildlife so it can be enjoyed by future generations.

If an animal becomes extinct it would be to our lasting shame that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would never be able to experience it in the wild.

Many people understand the importance of wildlife on our own doorstep and join the Wildlife Trust or become volunteers and do their bit. Our message is simple: Please continue to give to global appeals for tigers, elephants and polar bears, but never forget the beautiful creatures you can support in your own patch.


Emma’s Nature Moment

Nature moment Emma Ackerley on safari Nature moment Emma Ackerley on safari

Although an African elephant would never consume a human being, this didn’t stop me from feeling significantly knocked down the food chain, as I stood staring up into the eyes of a huge African elephant bull, less than five metres away. It was as if I’d suddenly animorphed, trading bodies with a microscopic tick.

I was standing in a friend’s back yard in South Africa watching all of the lesser-striped swallows swirling around, and hearing the “thwip, thwip, thwip” of a honeyguides’ wings go past my ears, when I noticed a rock begin to move nearby.

This turned out not to be a rock, it was in fact the large backside of an African elephant. The whole herd began to reveal themselves, walking along the fence line.

We quietly followed them on foot to the airstrip to get a better view. As I watched the herd cross, one of the older bulls walked right along the fence line, with us thinking he would just amble past. He didn’t.

When you’re watching elephants, time seems to stop. Everything is in slow motion and you have an enormous sense of awe and veneration for these beings. The bull stopped right in front of us and turned his heads towards us. Any minute now, if we moved, if we breathed, if we put one step forwards, he could have squashed the fence, charged, and killed any one of us.

He stopped, he checked us out, he smelt the air we stood in, and he was just letting us know, who was in charge in that moment. He was in a way, asking us that his family pass through this space without any harm.

I’m not sure I actually breathed for a whole 30 seconds. Looking in their eyes, is I imagine, what it would have been like to look into a dinosaur’s eyes. They are prehistoric and magical, and a world without elephants, is a world where something has gone drastically wrong and a world I don’t want to be part of.

* Emma Ackerley is The Lancashire Wildife Trust’s forest schools communications officer. Forest schools are getting children and teachers into outdoor classrooms to help them appreciate nature. The project in Manchester and, recently, Liverpool, is funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

More from Out & About

Wed, 00:00

Hearty breakfasts and delicious dinners are just two reasons for walking in this stunning area, as John Lenehan discovers

Read more
Bowland Walks
Wed, 00:00

There are few finer thing than exploring the countryside surrounding the many rivers situated across the county.

Read more
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Victoria Smith always loved horses but her high pressure job meant she had little time to ride – until she met a deer in the Forest of Bowland

Read more
Monday, May 14, 2018

Developments underway and planned around the city are celebrating its proud heritage and building for the future

Read more
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

For almost 25 years, outdoor writers and photographers Dennis and Jan Kelsall have produced guides and articles covering many of the country’s popular walking destinations. Here, Dennis picks five of his favourites.

Read more
Friday, May 4, 2018

Ramsbottom is well known for its food and drink scene, but Rebekka O’Grady meets some arty residents that will inspire your creative side.

Read more
Thursday, May 3, 2018

A devastating riding accident may have saved Katherine Beaumont from a life of anxiety and stress. Now she is sharing her experience.

Read more

A unique community musical in Wigan is taking one of George Orwell’s most famous works from the page to the stage and making a song and dance about social inequality.

Read more

When photographer Emma Campbell fell in love with Lakeland’s fell ponies she decided to raise their profile with a special project.

Read more
Equestrian photography
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Our walking guide John Lenehan takes us on a towpath where you can see one of Lancashire’s great engineering feats.

Read more
Canals Chorley
Monday, April 9, 2018

A selection of walks in and around Bowland for outdoor types who like to end their hike on a high note – with some great food and drink.

Read more
Monday, April 9, 2018

From specialist soap to awarding winning ale, Staveley is proving to be a magnet for small businesses and visitors

Read more
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The joy of spotting owls is described by The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright who tells us where to find them and how to identify these elusive creatures.

Read more
Monday, April 2, 2018

It stretches the length of the Liverpool suburb, and over the years has hosted many shops and businesses. Rebekka O’Grady chats to those who currently call it home

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search