WILDLIFE is suffering in one of the toughest dry spells in North West England for more than 80 years, say conservationists.
RSPB wetland reserves near the River Dee are suffering from parched conditions and there are warnings that the wildlife they support could suffer unless substantial rain comes soon.
As well as thousands of wading birds, ducks and geese, these sites are home to a wide range of amphibians, fish and insects.
During low tides, birds stay far out on the estuary, so the best time to visit is during high tide.
Summer plays host to visitors from warmer parts, including swallows, swifts and house martins feasting upon insect after insect.
This is also the time when little egrets reach their highest numbers.
A visit to nearby Neston reedbed is always worth a detour in the summer months.
Also in the North West the reservoir at the new RSPB/United Utilities site at Dove Stone near Manchester is just two thirds full and its now tinder-dry bog land offers little in the way of food for young wading birds and grouse.
However, a recently launched project by United Utilities, supported by the RSPB, offers hope for a future more resistant to drought.