A Wealth of Wildlife
There is already a wealth of wildlife making Bidston Moss their home.
“Buzzards, kestrels, lots of birds making their way through here as they migrate,” Forestry Commission Community Ranger, Duncan McNaughton, explains. “We see sparrowhawks and peregrines, reed and sedge warblers, chiff chaff, blackcap… there are even black pheasants: they had been bred at Lord Leverhulme’s Estate for shooting and they’re living here now.”
Welcoming the Zoo
But a range of larger, far more exotic animals has been making good use of Bidston Moss, too. Since 2012, Chester Zoo has arrived on an almost weekly basis to source feed for some of its impressive residents, such as rhino, elephant, okapi and giraffe.
“It’s important that we replicate what animals eat in the wild, and it’s crucial that our visitors see the animals behaving as they would do naturally,” says Anthony Hutchinson, the Zoo’s Animal Supplies Manager. “We come here for what we call ‘browse’, and this site is particularly useful as it has a great variety of species.”
Neil Rowland, also from the Zoo, agrees.
“The giraffes would really struggle without browse, they love it – and so do the visitors when they see their large tongues wrapping round the branches! The okapi are very fussy and only like willow and ash, the dik dik really like hawthorn and rhinos the sea-buckthorn. That’s why we’re delighted to be able to come to Bidston Moss, only half an hour’s drive away from the Zoo, as there’s such a vast amount of different species of tree and plant here.”It was Neil who originally found the site and made contact with the Forestry Commission.
And it’s a partnership that the Forestry Commission welcomes. “When the Zoo come here, they’re essentially coppicing, opening up the canopy so the wildflowers and associated insects can come back,” Duncan McNaughton, explains. “It’s all part of good woodland management.”
And finally, the Nordic Skier…
Bidston Moss also has the usual array of site users – dog walkers, local schools, cyclists making use of the Sustrans network – but there is one regular visitor that always turns a few heads. Alan Jones is a Nordic skiing enthusiast and has found that the trails across Bidston Moss make perfect terrain for practise.
“I had been looking for somewhere to ski for a while, somewhere with smooth tarmac cycle lanes, and I was delighted when I was put in touch with Groundwork Wirral and the Forestry Commission who told me that Bidston Moss was a good spot.”
His first passion, cross-country skiing, was fine in the snowy climates he experienced abroad, but didn't’t translate well when he returned to Britain to settle in Wirable. For almost thirty years, Nordic skiing has been his alternative, and he is now a familiar sight, skiing the tracks and trails of Bidston Moss.
Alan Jones enjoys Nordic skiing in Bidston Moss (Jonathan Keenan Photography)