It was overcast and mild today, 15 or 16 degrees, but with a strong breeze. Our first bird of note was a Buzzard over Bidston tip, seen from the train. In West Kirby the Mahonia was blooming in the brief sunshine, and a big Ivy in Sandlea Park still had many small flies and hoverflies on it. It was very blowy down by the front. The windsurfers were having a wonderful time, leaping and turning in the strong gusts.
We were just before a high tide (9.02m at 11.57), built up by the wind. Many birds had been blown over from Hilbre by the strong onshore winds. Next to the marsh there were lots of Oystercatchers, several hundred Starlings in the reeds and about 40 Pale-bellied Brent Geese sheltering on the water margin. A biggish jellyfish had been stranded on the beach, possibly a small Barrel jellyfish, Rhizostoma octopus, although I wouldn’t insist on the identification.
By the Dee Lane slipway we enjoyed an RSPB poster, showing the lengths of bird beaks and what they could reach in the sand.
We walked south along the prom, enjoying the sound of the wind wailing through the masts and rigging of the ships at the sailing club. There was spray splashing up onto the prom and a dead bird in the surf, probably a Magpie.
We headed for the shelter of Victoria Park for lunch, spotting a Pied Wagtail on the bowling green and a late flowering Cordyline or Yucca spike.
There was Ivy-leaved Toadflax blooming on a garden wall in Victoria Drive as we headed up to Ashton Park. People were still feeding bread to the birds despite notice about Angel Wing. Park birds included Mallards, Pigeons, Black-headed Gulls, Moorhens, Coots, Greylag and Canada Geese, and many young Herring Gulls. We think we spotted first, second and third year birds, but no adults.
On the path were painted representations of the planets, with the arc of the sun across the path at the far end to show their relative sizes. The distances weren’t to scale, though. The outer planets would need to be several miles away. In the Upper Park were a party of Long-tailed Tits, a Jay, a Blackbird and several Magpies.
The clocks changed last night, but the clock of St Bridget’s struck 12, even though the face was showing 1pm. They seem to have adjusted the chimes backwards by two hours, not one. One unusual gravestone was for David Donaldson Wynn-Williams of the Antarctic, whom I looked up. He was a polar microbiologist, born in West Kirby.
There were lots of Harlequin ladybirds crawling about on an “Old Rugged Cross” gravestone, which was carved like wood bark but, frustratingly for them, had no under-bark crevices for them to get into. There was a larva, too, which seemed quite late.
Public transport details: West Kirby train from Central Station at 10.35, arriving West Kirby at 11.04. Returned on the 14.01 rain, arriving Liverpool Central 2.35.
Here is the plan for the next few Sundays:
2nd Nov Waterloo – meet 10 am Central Station
9th Nov MNA coach trip, no walk
16th Nov Stanley Park – meet Queen Square 10 am
23rd Nov Woolton Woods – meet Great Charlotte Street 10 am
30th Nov Southport – meet Central Station at 10 am
7th Dec Xmas meal at New Brighton – meet Sir Thomas Street at 10 am
14th Dec “Merry Music at the Mansion”, Calderstones – meet 10 am Liverpool ONE
Sunday walks will resume on 18th January. All winter 2015 walks will meet at 10 am Queen Square and the destination will be decided on the day, depending on the weather.
Anyone is welcome to come out with the Sunday Group. It is not strictly part of the MNA, although it has several overlapping members. We go out by public transport to local parks, woods and nature reserves all over Merseyside, and occasionally further afield. We are mostly pensioners, so the day is free on our bus passes, and we enjoy fresh air, a laugh and a joke, a slow amble in pleasant surroundings and sometimes we even look at the wildlife!
If you want to join a Sunday Group walk, pack lunch, a flask, waterproofs, binoculars if you have them, a waterproof pad to sit on if we have to have lunch on the grass, and wear stout shoes or walking boots. We are usually back in Liverpool City Centre by 4pm at the latest.
If you are interested in the wildlife of the north-west of England and would like to join the walks and coach trips run by the Merseyside Naturalists’ Association, see the main MNA website for details of our programme and how to join us.