Woolston Eyes is a superb wetland habitat which lies next to the Manchester
Ship Canal and is virtually right underneath the M6 motorway.
new reserve was created in the early 1980's.
Eyes - under visited reserve in North West England|
locally as 'The Eyes', the area comprises a small series of islands and reed beds
that have become a man-made haven for wildlife.
The area is known to have
Saxon origins - 'Ees' is Saxon for land near a looping river.
land was originally used for sheep grazing but became industrialised during the
Industrial Revolution when powder mills and workers cottages were built.
resulted in a period of canal building - Woolston Old Cut was one of the first
navigational improvements carried out in the late 18th Century.
a short canal, further shortened the journey down the river by cutting out a further
section of the loop.
In 1896 the area was radically affected by the building
of the Manchester Ship Canal, which altered the landscape beyond recognition.
long meanders of the Mersey through Statham were cut off together with the old
canals to the north.
Work on the canal inadvertently created a superb wetland
The four wetland areas or beds at the reserve are managed by the
Woolston Eyes Conservation Group.
The beds are surrounded by steep embankments
with grassland and scrubby areas, and all are rich in wildlife.
is a top spot for bird watching - around 220 species have bee recorded on the
reserve including waders, raptors and five species of owl.
The bed to the
east of the motorway consists of rough grassland and willow scrub with reedy pools
which are attractive to birds such as Snipe.
Also look out for Chiffchaffs,
Blackcaps, Little Grebe, the Grasshopper Warbler, Reed and Sedge Warblers, and
the rare Grasshopper Warbler.
One of the rarest birds on the reserve is
the elusive Black necked Grebe which is characterised by its dark neck, fiery
red eyes and golden plumage.
Woolston Eyes is a stronghold for this springtime
stunner with about 14 birds, about one third of the British population.
Grebe likes shallow water and habitats rich in invertebrates and fringe vegetation
on which to breed.
Above all, this shy likes as little human disturbance
The number three bed provides a fantastic habitat for Black-necked
Grebe, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe.
This area lies west of the
reserve lies between the river and canal comprises a large area of willow scrub,
grasses and dense vegetation.
There is also a Black-headed Gull colony on
the peripheral of this area.
Woolston makes for a great day out with some
great rarities and elusive birds for birding enthusiasts.