Meols Meadow

Meols Meadows are located 8 km WNW of Birkenhead, close to the small town of Moreton. The site lies either side of the West Kirby-Bidston railway line, and between the Arrowe Brook, River Birket, and Carr Lane.

The site is underlain by Triassic Sherwood Sandstones, covered by river alluvium on boulder clay.

The main habitat is damp unimproved neutral grassland, the level fields being separated by ditches containing tall fen vegetation.

This site is the best example of the Crested Dog’s-tail/Common Knapweed type of grassland known in Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

It is characterised by the dominant grasses Red Fescue (Festuca rubra)/Common Bent (Agrostis capillaris)/Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) and the occurrence of Betony (Stachys officinalis), Cowslip (Primula veris), Pepper Saxifrage (Silaum silaus), Green-winged Orchid (Orchis morio) and Dyer’s Greenweed (Genista tinctoria).

Various combinations of the grasses Common Bent, Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), Common Couch (Elymus repens), Sweet Vernal Grass, Yellow Oat Grass (Trisetum flavescens), Soft Brome (Bromus hordeaceus), Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata), Meadow Fescue (Festuca pratensis), Red Fescue, Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) and Creeping Bent (Agrostis stolonifera) may be dominant.

Common herbs include Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra), Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium), Curled Dock (Rumex crispus), Pignut (Conopodium majus), Pepper Saxifrage, Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense), Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca).

Several species are indicative of a long history of traditional management, for example Betony, Dyer’s Greenweed, Pepper Saxifrage, Pignut, Cowslip, Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor), Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis), Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense) Quaking Grass (Briza media), Yellow Oat Grass, Meadow Barley (Hordeum secalinum) and Green-winged Orchid.

The tall fen vegetation is dominated by Common Reed (Phrapnites australis) and Greater Pond Sedge (Carex riparia) with Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), Nettle (Urtica dioica) and Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) in lesser abundance. Hemlock Water Dropwort (Oenanthe crocata), Betony and Great Willow-herb (Epilobium hirsutum) also occur.

Several of the species present are rare in Merseyside, these being Greater Pond Sedge, Meadow Barley, Green-winged Orchid, Cowslip and Pepper Saxifrage.

Other species of restricted occurrence in Merseyside include Quaking Grass, Yellow Oat Grass, Meadow Cranesbill, Dyer’s Greenweed and Adder’s-tongue (0phioglossum vulgatum).

A large colony of the Chimney Sweeper Moth (Odezia atrata) reflects the abundance of its larval food plant, pignut.

A locally rare Saltmarsh Money Spider (Minirialoides trifons) also occurs.

English Nature Citation details:

County: Merseyside
District: Wirral
Date Notified: 11 June 1990
File Ref: SJ 29/5
Site Name: Meols Meadows
Status: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified under Section 29 of the Wi1dlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Local Planning Authority: Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
National Grid Reference: SJ 245903
Area: 7.1 ha 17.5 ac
Ordnance Survey Sheet 1:50,000 108 1:10,000: SJ 29 SW
Date Notified (under 1981 Act): 1988
Date of last revision: 1990

Other Information:

1. Boundary modified at revision by extension.

2. Part of the site is a Cheshire Wildlife Trust reserve