On the way from the bus, at the corner of Woodhead Road and Bolton Road East we stopped to look at a Snow Gum (a Eucalyptus tree) and a Contorted Willow, both interesting choices for a suburban garden. One of the very new houses on Dock Road North had an empty House Martin’s nest tucked into the apex of the pediment, showing that they don’t need old houses to breed on. In the park the path edges were a profusion of flowers, with Fleabane, a long-flowered Mint (Apple Mint?), Tansy, Common Knapweed, Michaelmas Daisy, Ribbed Melilot, Wild Carrot, Teasel, the second flush of Bramble flowers, Yarrow, Common Toadflax, Black Medick, Mugwort and Fennel.
One tree, which was definitely an Alder, had unusual rich brown bark with pale markings. It wasn’t a rare variant (our first thought) because now I see that Mitchell says young trees have purplish-brown bark, and the Collins tree guide mentions “pale horizontal lenticels”.
Autumn is coming on apace, with ripening Blackberries, red Rowan and Hawthorn berries, heads of Elderberries and the seeds of Creeping Thistle (Thistledown?)
The River Park was celebrating its third anniversary with a Birthday Party picnic. To encourage children to walk around and notice things, the Friends had put up a series of numbered signs, with easy questions (ludicrously so for adults) placed right in front of the plants with the answers.
John had spotted both Swallows and Swifts overhead. A young Warbler was hunkered down in an Elder, showing its white eye stripe but otherwise unidentifiable. There was a Cormorant perching on something in the river, and on the pond were Canada Geese, Mallards, a Mute Swan, a Little Grebe, Redshank, Teal and a few Black-tailed Godwits who appeared to be just flying in from their breeding season further north.
Butterflies were about in the sunshine, including Gatekeeper, Large White, Meadow Brown, Green-veined White and this rather worn female Common Blue.
Cheshire, Halton, Warrington and Wirral RECORD had a stall around the back. We checked some of the finer points of plant ID with them (Hop Trefoil or Black Medick? Which Melilot?) and we were able to add several things to their daily list.
It was sunny and dry, a great day for their picnic. Stalls included the RSPB, Merseyside and West Lancs Bat Group, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Chester Zoo, the Soroptomists, face painting, kids painting model animals, and a cake stall. The local bee keepers had a demonstration comb in a glass case, with the Queen Bee marked with a yellow dot.
Rockliffe Raptors were there, with a Red Tailed Hawk, a Little Owl, and a Kestrel called “Hettie”.
On the way back we spotted a huge stalk of Great Mullein growing out of the base of a new wall. Several groups of Gulls were circling high up, possibly after flying ants. No new trees or birds today, but we added three new flowers, so our points are up to 1070.
Public transport details: Bus X8 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.20. It zooms along the New Ferry bypass, arriving at the first stop at New Chester Road / Pool Lane at 10.40. Returned on bus number 1 from New Chester Road opp Shore Drive at 2.40, arriving city centre at 3.05.
Next few weeks:
20th August, Birkenhead Park. Meet 10am Central Station.
27th August, Reynolds Park. Meet 10am Liverpool ONE bus station.
3rd September, Bold Moss. Meet 10am Lime Street Station.
10th September, Heritage Open Day. Meet at 9.45 at the Pump House by the Albert Dock.
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 www.mnapage.info for details of our programme and how to join us.