VOLUNTEER wardens are being asked to sign up to help protect the Dee Estuary nature reserve after a suspected arson attack destroyed an important nesting site.

The blaze at Parkgate on April 8 is just the latest in a string of similar attacks.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds runs a warden scheme patrolling the area to discourage people from starting fires.

Site manager at Dee Estuary reserve Colin Wells said: “We would benefit from having more volunteer wardens to help keep an eye on the reed-bed area in spring - so if any residents are keen to help protect this special wildlife habitat, get in touch with us.

“This fire is a stark reminder of how vulnerable the reed-bed and its surrounds are at this time of year.

“It was the fast action of one of the volunteers on Saturday evening to promptly raise the alarm and allow the fire to be extinguished quickly before too much damage was done.

“The last few weeks have been relatively fine and combined with periods of strong winds, the conditions on the marsh have become brittle and dry which meant the fire would have started easily.”

Mr Wells said the blaze will badly affect wildlife: “The harvest mice have lost their habitat and many of them may have been injured or killed.

“The area is an important breeding ground for birds such as reed buntings and water rails.

“They have lost their nesting areas.

“It’s devastating as we work so hard to create and maintain this site for wildlife and people to enjoy.”

To found out how to become a volunteer warden telephone 0151 336 4932 or email deeestuary@rspb.org.uk.