New birds have been sighted in Grosvenor Park, in the form of four willow sculptures replacing the RAF Spitfires which previously adorned the flower beds.
They’ve also been joined by an unexpected visitor – a female blackbird has made her home in a delivery of bedding plants at the park.
The bird sculptures were commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Environment Commissioning team through the Park’s Heritage Lottery Fund activity plan following the success of last year’s Spitfire display. They were built by local artist Sarah Gallagher-Hayes to mark 130 years of the RSPB.
The female blackbird, who has been named Dee-Dee by staff in honour of the River Dee nearby, was found nested in a box of begonias which had just been delivered at the park for planting. The area around the bird has been cordoned off and she is being watched over by staff as she waits for her egg to hatch.
The sculptures were unveiled at a celebration event at the Park on Friday, 21 June.
The Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Portfolio Holder for Wellbeing and Greenspaces, Councillor Louise Gittins said: “Everything looks wonderful in Grosvenor Park today. As part of this project, our StreetCare teams have planted floral displays of yellow marigolds and blue salvia’s underneath the sculptures to mimic the water of the Dee running through the Cheshire Plains.
“Council officers contacted local RSPB groups for advice on significant birds found on the Dee. Following discussions with local groups, four birds were chosen to adorn this year’s annual bedding display; the Avocet, Hen harrier, Little egret and Cormorant.
“I’m sure the new sculptures will be much admired by all park visitors this summer.
“It’s appropriate that our new visitor Dee-Dee chose to make the Park her home in time for the RSPB celebration event.”
Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager for the RSPB said: “We are delighted the RSPB was chosen for this year’s Grosvenor Park Art Sculpture Project, with three separate anniversaries to commemorate.
“This year marks 130 years since our campaign against the slaughter and trade of millions of birds used in Victorian fashion began.
“One of our largest reserves lies on the nearby Dee Estuary, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and is now home to the country’s fourth largest colony of little egrets, one of the birds hardest hit by the barbarous plumage trade before we were successful in getting it stopped.
“Another of the sculpture birds, the hen harrier finds a safe winter refuge on the vast marshes of the Dee, but is one we continue to campaign hard for, against its threat of extinction from illegal persecution in its upland breeding grounds.
“This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the first RSPB Local Group, with an active one here in Chester now into its fourth decade giving us a priceless community presence, supporting conservation projects across the city as well as growing support for our national campaigns.”
The sculptures will be in place until Spring 2020.
More information about the birds can be found on display boards situated next to each sculpture, alternatively please visit the RSPB’s website.