My Wild Mersey

My Wild Mersey

Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

A muddy, magical refuge for wildlife

Imagine lifting your binoculars to the sight of tens of thousands of dunlin feeding on the mudflats in front of you, occasionally whipped into a whirling cloud by a hungry peregrine falcon or merlin. Imagine listening to the mournful call of a curlew drfting up the shore on a salty breeze that runs its fingers through your hair. Imagine peeping, squeaking crowds of oystercatchers, redshanks, turnstones and knot stretching across the rocky shore as far as the eye can see.

This isn't a vision of Utopia - this is the Mersey Estuary, and it needs your help.

What makes the Mersey so special?

Mud, and lots of it! Lugworms, cockles and other invertebrates live in the gloopy mud of the estuary, offering vital nourishment to hundreds of thousands of waders, ducks and other water birds each year.

“It has been calculated that the worms, shrimps and shellfish found underneath one square metre of Mersey mud have the same number of calories as 16 Mars bars.”

So attractive is this mud that the Mersey Estuary is of international importance, helping birds refuel on their spring and autumn migrations as well as supporting them through harsh winters:

  • 40,000 dunlin - half the UK population! - spend the winter here.
  • Huge numbers of teal, pintails and other ducks arrive in winter.
  • 1 in 5 UK shelducks – 19,000 birds – spends the summer months here.
  • Up to 100,000 individual waders feed on the mudflats and beaches on a typical winter's day, including golden plovers, black-tailed godwits, redshanks, knot and oystercatchers.

Thankfully, much of the Mersey's saltmarshes, mudflats, rocky shoreline and cliffs are safeguarded as a 50.23 km2 Special Protection Area (SPA). So far this has protected the Estuary from the encroachment of nearby industry, but this safe haven and the wildlife that depends on it now faces a huge threat.

The birds of the Mersey

Why does the Mersey need our help?

The Mersey has been a hub for industry and commerce for hundreds of years. While the docks and urban development have spread into Merseyside, the Estuary itself has remained a haven for both wildlife and people. Now though, it faces change that could have potentially tragic consequences for the creatures that depend on it for survival.

With backing from politicians in the City Region, plans have been put forward for a barrage or alternative to create green energy. The barrage would affect the tides flowing in and out of the Estuary, which would in turn affect the invertebrates in the mud and the birds that feed on them. Fewer invertebrates for birds in desperate need of this nourishment ultimately means fewer birds, and wouldn't that be a tragedy?

We desperately need green energy, but any development must be built with as little effect on this vital wildlife refuge as possible. Where there is an effect, the development must offer compensation and a 'net gain', meaning that wildlife in the area must actually benefit and wild places be much better off than those destroyed.

What you can do

Unfortunately not everyone realises just how important this muddy wonderland really is, so we need you to help us spread the word.

Enter our My Wild Mersey photo competition and tell us your stories about the wild inhabitants of the Mersey Estuary through words and pictures.

Have you been left breathless by a dunlin mumuration? Has the tranquil atmosphere of the Estuary offered peace in troubling times? Enter the competition using the form below and tell us your Mersey memories.

The prize

The winner – as judged by our independent panel – will receive a £100 cash prize. They will be contacted via email once the panel has made their decision.

Enter the My Wild Mersey photo competition

Closing date: 31st May 2021 at 11:59 pm 

By providing us with your postcode, we will be able to see which Wildlife Trust area you fall in to. With your permission we will then securely share your name and email address with Cheshire Wildlife Trust where appropriate, so that you may keep in touch with the project through your local Wildlife Trust.
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Rules, terms and conditions

Please read all the rules and the Terms and Conditions before entering the competition.


· Amateur photographers only.

· No wildlife or habitats should be harmed, put at risk, or unduly disturbed in the process of taking photographs.

· The detail of the photograph should not be altered, e.g. by adding or removing an insect from a bird’s beak.

· By entering your image, you grant to  Lancashire Wildlife Trust (LWT) the non-exclusive right to reproduce it for any purpose at any time in any media with attribution. Please see full terms and conditions below.

· Entrants under 18 must have parental or legal guardian consent prior to entering the competition.

· LWT accepts no responsibility for entries which are lost or corrupted during upload.

· We cannot judge any pictures whose details have been entered incorrectly.

· The Judging Panel’s decision on all matters affecting this competition is final and legally binding.

· No correspondence regarding the results will be entered into.


LWT may display your contribution on posters and marketing material across our nature reserves.

LWT may display your contribution on the LWT and Brockholes website and through social media channels such as Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.

LWT may also use your images in publications such as the membership magazine. Full photographer credit will be given.

The LWT reserves the right to remove contributions that it considers to be contrary to the spirit of the terms and conditions of submission, including submissions it considers to be objectionable or that violate copyright.

The LWT’s rights in relation to your contribution

Publication of your contribution will be at LWT's sole discretion. LWT reserves the right to edit, adapt, move or delete any contribution accepted. We will try to credit authors where possible, but may not always do so.

Save as expressly provided for in these terms neither the LWT nor its trading subsidiary(ies) shall be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage or for any costs, claims or demands of any nature whatsoever arising directly or indirectly out of the use of your  contribution or any part thereof. 

These Terms and Conditions (as amended from time to time) constitute the entire agreement between you and LWT concerning your contribution to the competition. LWT reserves the right to update these Terms and Conditions from time to time and any updated version will be effective as soon as it is published on the Website. 

LWT takes your privacy very seriously; we will only use your personal information in accordance with the terms of our Privacy Policy.

By submitting a contribution, you acknowledge and agree that you have read and accept the terms of our Privacy Policy and these Terms and Conditions.

Terms and Conditions

By submitting your contribution to LWT you agree to be legally bound by these Terms and Conditions. Copyright in an image entered in the competition remains vested in the author of that work. However, the author must not sell to, or licence to a third party, to use the image which could detract from the benefit of the image to LWT. However, by entering an image and in consideration of LWT accepting the image in the competition, the author grants to LWT and any sub licensees it grants a free of charge right to reproduce and publish the image at any time in any media. LWT will ensure that images used in this way will be subject to an effective copyright notice and will credit the author. 

By submitting any contribution, you agree LWT may use the material for any purpose and in any way it chooses, including, but not limited to, developing, manufacturing and marketing products. Any contribution you provide shall be non– confidential. Any contribution must be your own original work, it must not infringe the rights of third parties including copyright, trade mark, trade secrets, privacy, publicity, personal or proprietary rights. If your contribution features other people who are recognisable, you are responsible for ensuring that you have their permission for the contribution to be treated according to the uses set out above.

Contributions featuring children under 18 can only be accepted if you are the parent or guardian. By accepting these terms and conditions you warrant that you are the parent or guardian and that you grant permission for the contribution to be treated according to the uses set out above.