Hugh Harris: Lunt Meadows and Wetlands Nature Reserve, SD3402

Water vole (Peter Trimming)

 

Lunt Meadows is an entirely new 77 ha wetland nature reserve, located along the River Alt floodplain, owned by the Environment Agency, in North Merseyside. It is sited adjacent to an area of raised bank suspected to be the first point of overtopping in a flood event. In July 2010 the River Alt bank did breach in this location and an area of 80 ha was inundated to a maximum depth of 1m. Developing habitats include wet grassland, reedbed, fen and open water. The site is managed primarily for breeding waders and water vole.


Previous water vole surveys have found some of the highest densities in the country and the proposed habitat creation will further enhance the population. It will also provide nesting opportunities for several key bird species, create new spawning habitat for fish coming in from the River Alt and attract invertebrates, for which there is a scarcity of habitat within the area. The site offers a tranquil natural resource for the local communities and to the neighboring urban fringe
     
Bird species count: our sightings on a cold, cloudy April day were 24 species in 1 hour 45 minutes.
Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Pochard, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Great Black-backed Gull, Magpie, Robin, Canada Goose, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Coot, Lapwing (nesting), Bar-tailed Godwit, Woodpigeon, Swallow (44), and Reed Bunting.
Total number of species 24


Lunt Meadows is the second largest wetland in North Merseyside and the long-term site management will create the conditions for an essential ‘stepping stone’ for wildlife within the agricultural plain, connecting nationally important wetlands in the region that are otherwise widely separated from each other. During initial excavations, what is thought to be a stone-age settlement was discovered and ongoing recovery works have shown it is a site of national archeological importance; one of only a handful where evidence of permanent settlement from over 8000 years ago still exist.


The nationally important Lunt Meadows prehistoric hunter-gatherer settlement has been under excavation for the last few years in a wetland nature reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust. Recently, the official opening of the reserve marked a new phase in the site’s development with the provision of information boards and viewing facilities including those overlooking the archaeological site. This means that the completion phase of the excavations of the settlement can be viewed by visitors to the reserve in a natural setting not unlike the one in which it was originally located 8000 years ago. 

 

Information re: Car Parking and opening hours at Lunt Meadows nature reserve in Merseyside

The site car park is now open and accessed from the new site entrance along Lunt Road – look for the reserve entrance sign (Lunt Meadows Flood Storage Reservoir and Nature Reserve). A gravelled track leads from here to the car park. It would be helpful if visitors could use the car park and not park along side roads as this is causing an issue for residents.


The car park is currently open daily from 9.30am to 6pm, 7 days a week. This is opened and closed between staff and volunteers - if anyone uses the site regularly and could help in this by doing one morning or evening a week opening or closing the gate please let us know. The car park opening hours will vary with the season and hours of daylight so keep an eye on here for changes if you visit regularly.
The reserve itself is now open but still developing. Please be aware that pathways are muddy in places – LWT is currently looking for funding to improve these but, in the meantime, please take care, wellies are also definitely advisable.
If you have any queries, please contact Lancashire Wildlife Trust directly on 0151 920 3769.


Hugh@ LWT