It’s officially summer and full of life at the Upper Mersey Estuary! From mudflats and saltmarshes to hedgerows and woodland, the Upper Mersey Estuary is a dynamic and unique natural place, steeped in industrial and cultural history. With a rich tapestry of different habitats, the area provides a heaven for wildlife. Here are some of the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust’s nature highlights this time of year:

Take in the views at Widnes Warth and look out for buzzards circling over the saltmarsh, or listen for the chorus of song thrush and skylark overhead. Along the tow path you’ll be sure to spot one of the many hedgerow inhabitants in the hawthorn and bramble, such as finches and thrushes. Keep an eye out for elusive reed bunting and warblers hanging out in the river’s impressive reedbeds too, and the jewel-blue flashes of kingfisher passing through the canal. Further up, the viewing platforms at the Future Flower sculpture provide a peaceful outlook onto the inter-tidal mudflats, where gulls, lapwing, cormorants, shelduck and curlew can often be easily spotted with or without binoculars.

The Upper Mersey Estuary is also home to many plant species of interest, including orchids like fragrant orchid, bee orchid, and marsh orchid. The orchids and other flowering plants along the Estuary not only provide us with uplifting swathes of vibrant colour and sweet scents, but they also support a variety of important invertebrate populations – and an abundance of insects makes for an excellent feeding ground for birds and small mammals, such as bats! The Upper Mersey Estuary and surrounding canals are used by at least 4 of the UK’s 18 species of bat, with MGET’s surveys showing the presence of: common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, noctule, and an unidentified myotis sp.

Below the waves of the River Mersey itself live some equally amazing species, with sightings of porpoise and seals as far inland as the bridge crossings – perhaps in pursuit of the Atlantic salmon that migrate up the Mersey once a year to spawn. Young salmon will remain in the upper freshwater regions of the river for up to three years after they hatch, and once they are big enough they will return to the Irish Sea during springtime. Most recently MGET have been out at the estuary collecting plankton samples, finding creatures of a much smaller scale including tiny crustaceans copepods and ostracods (AKA seed shrimp), and phantom midges.

We’d love to hear about any wildlife you spot along the Upper Mersey Estuary, big or small! Email us at or get in touch via one of our social media platforms.