Yet another hot day, overcast at first, but the sun came out later.
The houses at the back of Marshside, in Elswick Road and Preesall Close, have House Martins nesting under their eaves. From the bank we could see over the reserve, where there was a Heron skulking in a ditch. Also Wood Pigeon, House Sparrows, Goldfinches, Swallows, Canada Geese and a Little Egret flying over. A Llama was resting in the southern field. We spotted a Peacock butterfly and there were wildflowers all along the bank and on the verge of Marshside Road – Poppies, Yarrow, Mugwort, Ragwort, Comfrey, Wild Parsnip, Tansy, Goat’s Beard, Hogweed, Great Willowherb, Burdock, a lilac one I think was Spearmint, Goldenrod and Evening Primrose.
As we approached Sandgrounders Hide a flock of several hundred Starlings came up. There were more coming up from the long vegetation as we settled in for lunch. We don’t usually go to Marshside when there is so much undergrowth. A lot of it was Weld, I think. Birds included Coot, Gadwall, two Mute Swans on the far side, several Little Grebes and 100+ Black-tailed Godwits.
Outside on the bank we noted two kinds of butterfly, a Gatekeeper and a Common Blue.
There were also several mating pairs of Six-spot Burnet moths, which had just emerged and were getting on with the important business of their life cycle. Below them were the empty cases and pupal debris.
Fennel was growing on the verge, and two pale flowers that looked like Michaelmas Daisy. In July? Junction Pool had Lapwings, Redshank, Black-headed Gulls, Mallards, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese. On the way to Nel’s Hide we noticed several small burrows in the bank, about 2 inches (5 cm) wide and going in about a foot (30 cm). There were clear areas outside each hole, perhaps from fresh digging, but we didn’t see any tracks.
There was hardly any water visible from Nel’s Hide, just a Brown Hare browsing. Something was flitting about in the reeds in front of us, but we couldn’t get it to show itself. Reed Warbler or Sedge Warbler? We couldn’t tell.
Corpse of the Day was a dead bunny in the road.
Margaret noticed an interesting shrub while we were heading back. She suggested Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant, and my book agrees. There was also a clump of what appeared to be Japanese Knotweed.
Along Marshside Road, House Sparrows were dust-bathing in a pile of sand, and near the bus stop at The Fog Bell we noticed a pair of Collared Doves and the thriving garden colony of House Sparrows.
Public Transport details: Train from Central Station at 10.26 to Southport, arriving 11.10. Bus 44 from Eastbank Street towards Crossens at 11.24, arriving Elswick Road / Preesall Close at 11.40. Returned on bus 44 from Marshside Road / The Fog Bell at 15.04 arriving Southport 15.12, then train at 15.28 to Liverpool.
Here is the plan for the next few Sundays:
27th July No walk – Giants weekend.
3rd August Riverside Park – meet 10am Liverpool ONE bus station. (If you are a National Trust member, bring your card for Speke Hall)
10th August Reynolds Park – meet 10am Great Charlotte Street (O)
17th August Shropshire Union Canal, Ellesmere Port – meet 10.15 Central Station. (Note that the return bus starts outside the Merseytravel area.)
24th August Trans-Pennine Trail 4, Woodvale to Lydiate – meet 10am Queen Square (B)
31st August Taylor Park, St Helens – meet 10am Queen Square
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.