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Wirral’s wonderful waders

The third Wirral Wader Festival will take place this September to celebrate the tens of thousands of wading birds that visit Wirral’s unique coastline every year.

Wading birds such as knots, dunlins, curlews and bar-tailed godwits feast on the rich mudflats of the Dee estuary and North Wirral shores and can be easily seen from places such as Hoylake promenade. 

To showcase this natural spectacle, Wirral Coast Partnership has organised a busy programme of events for Wirral Wader Festival on the 8th, 9th and 10th September. 

Karen Leeming, Chair of the Wirral Coast Partnership commented that: “Since the Wirral Wader Festival Partnership held the first UK Wader Festival in 2015, it has encouraged a number of other UK coastal areas to follow suit and we think that this is a fantastic achievement. 

“The entire Wirral coastline has protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the internationally important numbers of wading birds that live here through autumn and winter. As a result, it is the focus of conservation efforts from a number of environmental organisations, local authority departments and private sector organisations who all contribute to the event.

“The Festival starts with a talk by the naturalist and environmentalist Iolo Williams, also a renowned presenter on the BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch, on Friday evening and then a full weekend of events held at Hoylake and West Kirby. 

“Everyone is welcome from keen bird watchers to people who have never looked through a telescope but who would like to learn a bit more about local wildlife – we have lots of people to help identify what you are looking at, and we have a lot of activities for children and the young at heart.”

Wirral was approached to hold the first event of its kind in the UK in 2015 by Rick and Elis Simpson of Wader Quest. They came on a visit to view the remarkable efforts of the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens (DEVW) who protect the thousands of birds roosting on West Kirby and Hoylake beaches at high tide.

Wirral Wader Festival was created by DEVW with Wirral Council’s Coastal Rangers, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and Wader Quest.

There will be high tide watches to marvel at the knot and dunlin roosts on Hoylake beach and at Cheshire Wildlife Trust's Red Rocks nature reserve.  At West Kirby there will be live footage beamed direct from Little Eye, showing off the oystercatchers and curlews up close.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust will be holding guided walks around the Red Rocks SSSI nature reserve and hosting the children’s activities.  Wirral Rangers will be guiding a walk to Hilbre Island.

For full details of the events and activities during the festival, visit Wirral Wader Festival Facebook page, or the festival's own website. Most activities on Saturday and Sunday are free but some have a small charge.  Seats for the Iolo Williams talk cost £15 and must be pre-booked on the  Cheshire Wildlife Trust website