AN APPEAL for more people to help count herons in Ellesmere has been made, amid national concerns that the number of nesting birds is decreasing.

Heronwatch runs from the Boathouse at the Mere from February to May counting the number of nesting herons on Moscow Island – in the Mere.

Edward Bevan, from Ellesmere Heronwatch, says he agrees that locally the number of grey herons may have dropped but insisted the reasons for that have not yet been made clear.

But he also called for more support in trying to count this spring.

“The number of herons we’re seeing has decreased but we don’t know the cause,” he said.

“There’s far more humans at the front of the Boathouse than there used to be which could be a reasons for it.

“But I am speculating and I don’t know that for sure.

“It’s possible we have got half the numbers that we did about 15 years ago.

“It’s a concern for us.

“We don’t know if there’s fewer birds or if they are just nesting elsewhere – our focus is one how many are part of the heronry on the Mere.

““We don’t know if there are other heronries somewhere else.

We submit to our data about this to the British Trust for Ornithology which is similar to the RSPB but more scientific while the latter is about public awareness.

“Our heronwatch runs from February 10 – we usually time it for the start of half term – and will run into the middle of May when the final chick fledges and leaves.

“We need as many eyes on the Mere as we can have and we need all the help we can get.

“If anyone wants to help they can do and we give training too.”

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Ian Woodward, research ecologist at the BTO, told, said: "This ongoing survey helps us monitor the overall well-being of nesting heron species across the UK.

“Thanks to the wealth of information gathered by our dedicated volunteers we can see just how these birds are responding both positively and negatively to changes in the environment.

"It also goes to show just how important the UK's wetlands are as essential habitats for many of our resident species.”