Crosby beach, 10th November 2019

What a lovely day! There was a clear blue sky and it was calm and still. There had nearly been a frost overnight, as people were scraping car windows as I set out, but there were no frozen puddles. Our first stop was Bootle, where we attended their Remembrance service. Then we took the bus up to Crosby and lunched on a picnic table outside the Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre. The thick hedges were full of House Sparrows, some bathing in puddles and others picking about after the picnickers.

On the boating lake were the usual Mallards, Coots, Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Black-headed Gulls and Herring Gulls. There were also some winter visitors: several black-and white Tufted Duck and a couple of russet-headed Pochards. The beach was quite busy on this lovely day, and the Iron Men were lost among the real people wandering about. There are at least four on this picture, with others in the very far distance.

Some of the Iron Men have recently been dug up to re-set those which had developed a “lean”. I thought they were also going to fix the ones where the sand has moved, making them stand above or below the beach level, but apparently not. However, they all seem to have had a spruce up and polish, with all barnacles and encrustations removed, and now they glow bronze in low sun.

I had brought my newly-acquired seashore book, Beachcombing and the Strandline by Steve Trewhella and Julie Hatcher, and we hunted along the tideline. We didn’t find anything startling. The seaweed was just the very common Bladder Wrack with the occasional strand of Egg Wrack – black strap-like fronds with large (2cm) single bladders along the stipe. The plant grows a new bladder each year, so you can “age” the weed as you do with tree-rings. But if all you get is broken pieces, you can’t conclude anything. There were Razor shells, but most were damaged and broken and were hard to identify. We think we saw both the Common Razor Shell Ensis ensis and the Pod Razor Shell Ensis siliqua. There were also plenty of Common Cockles and Common Mussels.

Cockles and Mussels …

The fine oval shells (pink when fresher) are Tellins, but whether these are Baltic Tellins or Thin Tellins, we couldn’t say.

Tellins

There were a few snail-like Periwinkle shells and quite a lot of small Auger shells Turritella communis. They grow up to 5cm (2 inches), but these were smaller. Notice also that the one on the left appears to have a small round hole near the top. This looks like the work of a “driller killer”, probably a Dog Whelk, although the rarer Oyster Drill does this as well.

Auger shells

We saw a Pied Wagtail rootling for insects in the old Bladder Wrack. On the way back to the bus we walked into the dunes. John identified a distant bird flying away as a Snipe. We had gone to look at one of Britain’s rarest plants, which someone had shown us the location of last year. It’s called Dune Wormwood, and is known in only two patches in the UK, one in Glamorgan, and one here in Crosby Coastal Park. It isn’t much to look at, just dry brown stalks with marram grass growing through it. Its flowers are very underwhelming, too, I understand. The Coastal Park signage mentions it without giving away its precise location. Quite right!

Public transport details: 47 bus at 10.20 from Sir Thomas Street (diverted because Queen Square was closed), arriving Stanley Road / Keble Road at 10.32. From the same stop, the 53 bus at 11.45, arriving South Road / Waterloo station at 12.05. All except me returned on the 53 from Oxford Road / Courtenay Road at about 2.30, but I can walk home from there.

Next few weeks:
17th November, Flaybrick. Meet Sir Thomas Street at 10 am

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 or a wet bench (A garden kneeler? A newspaper in a plastic bag?), 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.

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Hesketh Park Southport, 3rd November 2019

Hesketh Park is another of the elegant Merseyside parks laid out by Edward Kemp, opened in 1868. The shelter of the surrounding mature trees made it very mild within the park, which probably accounted for the wildflowers which were still blooming – Ragwort, Red Campion, Bramble and Michaelmas Daisy.  On the lake was the usual urban bird congregation, Mallards, Mute Swans, Coots, Moorhens, Black-headed Gulls and a few juvenile Herring Gulls. However, there were also some more unusual ones. Several dozen Tufted Duck, a single Pochard and a Cormorant flapping its wings. There was a Grey Wagtail on the path.

Pochard
Cormorant
Grey wagtail

In the shrubbery near the Conservatory was a shrub just coming into flower. “Castor Oil Plant”, said all my companions. But that’s a common mistake, apparently. It was a False Castor Oil Plant Fatsia japonica. It is also called glossy-leaf paper plant, fatsi, paperplant and Japanese aralia.

I was hoping for a blaze of autumn colour, but there is still far too much green about. Some trees are going yellow, and the leaves are starting to fall, but there isn’t much red yet. The reddest tree we saw was a Beech near the playground.

In the (tree) Specimen Garden we looked for the Katsura that used to be there but we couldn’t spot it. It has yellow heart-shaped leaves and is said to smell of candy floss in the autumn. The Dawn Redwood’s needles were brown and falling. A Tulip Tree, said to be famous for its autumn colour, could only muster yet more yellow, and the best effort came from several Persian Ironwoods, although not up to the glory of some autumns.

By a fluke, we found the Fernley Observatory open. It was originally just a Meteorological Observatory, but after the death of local man Joseph Baxendell FRAS (1815–1887), the retired Timekeeping Astronomer for the City of Manchester, his family offered his observatory, telescope and equipment to the park. It was erected and installed in 1901, and was originally open to the public. As time went by it fell into disuse, until it was restored as a historic building in 2007. It is still used by Southport Astronomical Society, but since the dome doesn’t rotate fully, it is used only for meetings and education, not observations.

Public transport details: Bus 47 from Queen Square at 10.15, arriving Albert Road / opp Hesketh Park at 11.30. Returned on the X2 from Albert Road / Park Road at 2.20, arriving Liverpool about 3pm.

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Taylor Park St Helens, 20th October 2019

It was a dry and mostly sunny day, but there was a chilly wind. Winter is coming! At the gate of the park was an interesting old Turnpike Road Milestone which, according to the accompanying sign, may date from around 1820. It and another similar one were once used as gateposts on a house in Balker Drive, near Victoria Park. They were recently recognised and rescued by local historians and are now sited in parks as near to their original sites as possible. This one was once on the other side of Prescot Road, outside the park. The wording on the left face is “To Afhton [Ashton]  VI [6] Miles  St Helens I [1] Mile.” On the right face “To Prescot III [3] Miles  Liverpool XI [9] Miles.” Inscribed on the base “Eccleston”.

As we walked up the main park path we were surprised that most trees are still green and almost fully-leafed. The Limes are showing about half yellow, but there is hardly any red. The birds don’t care, of course. Many were flitting about, including Great Tits, Blue Tits, Robins, a Goldcrest, a Treecreeper and a Buzzard overhead. We heard a Nuthatch but couldn’t find it. There were some very fresh Molehills on the grass verges and plenty of Grey Squirrels scampering about. The upper tree branches were interestingly twisty, looking vaguely spooky.

At the lake were the usual Mallards, Moorhens, Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Canada Geese, Mute Swans, and also three Tufted Ducks and a Great Crested Grebe. Also some oddities: they have about three red-wattled Muscovy Ducks and an apparently tame Barnacle Goose which keeps company with a rather suspect Greylag Goose, looking like it has smatterings of Canada Goose and White-fronted Goose in its ancestry.

There was a row of Black-headed Gulls on a railing, and we checked them for rings. None in evidence. It seems Taylor Park also has at least one regular international commuter, like the ones we spotted in Chester last winter. On the noticeboard outside the Visitors’ Centre is a sign asking people to look out for a gull nicknamed “Jeli”. (They initially misread the ring, which really says JBL1.) It commutes to the park each winter from the Oslo area of Norway.

We had our lunch in the sunken Quarry garden, where Coal Tits were coming to breadcrumbs. Then we strolled around the lake. A Dunnock came out on the path. A Wych Elm caught the sun and was hosting several Ladybirds, also a larva. I can see on the photo that they had brown legs, not black, so they were Harlequins sunning themselves before finding a cranny to hibernate in.

A decorative Cherry tree was the only bit of Autumn red that we spotted all day.

We also admired a young Tibetan Cherry, with stripy bark in bands of shiny mahogany brown.

Public transport details: Bus 10 from Queen Square at 10.15, arriving Prescot Road / Regents Road (outside Taylor Park) at 10.54.  Returned from Prescot Road / Toll Bar (opposite the park) on the 10 at 2.10, arriving Liverpool at 2.55

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Birkenhead Park, 13th October 2019

Birkenhead Park was opened in 1847, and is the world’s first publicly-funded civic park, open to all. It is said to have inspired New York’s Central Park, and is a Grade I listed landscape. It’s over two years since we were last there. In light rain we walked down from the massive arched Grand Entrance, looking at the gulls on the muddy field on the left: Black-headed Gulls, Common Gulls, a few young Herring Gulls, one or two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a few Magpies beyond. The droopy evergreen there is a Brewer Spruce, I think.

Many of the red-berried trees have fruited well this autumn, especially the Hollies and Yews. Several birds were after the Yew berries, including a Great Tit, a very fast and elusive Goldcrest and a Mistle Thrush at the top of a neighbouring Beech. There isn’t much autumn colour yet. The Limes are going yellow, the Horse Chestnuts are brown from the leaf miner infection, but there is still lots of green. We made an anti-clockwise circle around the lake, seeing only the ubiquitous Pigeons, Mallards, Moorhens and Coots. A bit more exciting was a Treecreeper. Some of the trees bore bat roosting boxes, and there are said (in the poster in the Visitors’ Centre) to be five species of bat here, although they weren’t named. We looked at the Mulberry tree, but there was no fruit left on it. At the west end of the Lower Lake, just past the rockery corner, is one of the park’s star trees, the Cucumber Tree Magnolia accuminata, with its huge leaves hanging over the path, at least a foot (30cm) long.

There’s a Monterrey Cypress by the Swiss Bridge, with large clusters of scaly woody fruits.

We looked at an interesting tree over the water, on the south east side of the lake. It’s only a small one, with bluey green compound leaves and rounded leaflets. The leaflets are the wrong shape for a Pagoda tree, so it is possibly a Locust tree, a False Acacia, Robinia pseudoacacia. Mitchell’s tree book describes the leaves as greyish green, so that might be it.

By the bridge at the north east end of the lake we checked to see if there were any survivors of the distinctive brood of five tall thin black Mallards, which we first saw in November 2011. In August  2017 we found one still alive on the other side of the park, but we didn’t see it today.  But there was a family of Mute Swans with three big brown cygnets, several Canada Geese and a Cormorant.

Behind the Visitors’ Centre was a very strange wooden structure, labelled sternly “not a playground or a toy”, so I think it must have been Art.

In the far corner was a glade full of little fairy houses.

On some old branches left on the grass nearby to decompose were some interesting small fungi. Some were chalk-white flat ones with a hint of a stalk, maybe 1cm across. They looked like little white flowers. My friend Google Images suggests they might be Plicatura crispa (no common name), which is more usually found in Scotland, or northern English counties. The most southerly report is from Richard Fortey, (yes, THAT Richard Fortey), from a wood in Oxfordshire.

Further along the same log were some small bracket-types, again about 1cm, with white edges, fawn gills on the top side, and smooth below. The log didn’t appear to have been turned or moved recently, so that’s the way they had grown. Back to my friend Google Images, which suggests they are Split Gill Schizophyllum commune, which is common and widespread.

We found a Spindle tree in a shrubbery on the west side of the Visitors’ Centre, its four-sided red seed cases opening to reveal the hard round red seeds inside, one to each section. Later, on the way back to the station, we noted another of the Park’s star trees, the Hybrid Strawberry Tree inside the fence by the traffic lights, with dark evergreen leaves and red peeling bark. But before that it had started to rain hard, so we retreated to the Visitors’ Centre for shelter, spotted their table tennis table, asked at the desk and were entrusted with some bats and balls. It’s a long time since any of us have played table tennis. We found that we could serve as we used to, but the return strokes went all over the place!

Public transport details: Bus 437 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.19, arriving Park Road North / Park Road East at 10.35. Returned on the train from Birkenhead Park station at 14.36, arriving Liverpool 14.55.

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NEXT MNA COACH TRIP BEACON FELL 16th OCT 2019

WE STILL HAVE SPACES AVAILABLE ON THE NEXT COACH TRIP TO BEACON FELL IF YOU CANT GET THROUGH TO SEEMA PLEASE CONTACT SABENA VIA E-MAIL TO BOOK YOUR PLACE chairman@mnapage.info

Sat 26th Oct Beacon Fell CP. Type: Coach Trip Where we are meeting: 8.30 Bromborough Village, 8.45 Conway Park, 9.00 William Brown Street, 9.15 Rocket (start M62) Cost: £20. Do I need to book? Yes with Coach Secretary Seema Aggarwhal Tel: 07984 231059 or if no answer with Sabena Blackbird chairman@mnapage.info

Guided or free to roam: FTR or Guided, leader John Clegg

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New Brighton, 6th October 2019

It was forecasted to be a very wet day, so we thought we needed to be near shelter. West Kirby or New Brighton sprang to mind, and the first bus that came was for New Brighton. In the event it was dry and occasionally sunny, so we were overdressed! But it was very windy on that exposed corner of the Wirral.

Our first stop was the pontoons on the Marine Lake, which are always good for shorebirds sitting out the rising tide. Would there be a Purple Sandpiper or two? Sadly not. But there were many little red-legged brown and white Turnstones, taller Redshanks, a Black-headed Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull, and near the back, a couple of Knot. On this picture one is stretching up and preening its breast.

We walked along the north edge of the Marine Lake. Far out on the beach by the lighthouse were lots of gulls and a small group of Oystercatchers. We stopped to look at the small mound of dry beach and rocks near the corner of Fort Perch Rock. It was topped with clumps of Marram grass, which is often the first coloniser of bare sand, and its roots stabilise the young dune.

A couple of other plants were colonising this marginal habitat. I think this is Sea Beet, although the leaves don’t quite match the book. Much in demand by trendy foraging restaurants, apparently.

On the sheltered side under the railing was a crucifer with white flowers. Probably Sea Rocket, whose flowers can be purple, but lilac and white are known variations.

In the open tarmac space in front of Fort Perch Rock, some recent high tides had thrown up lines of drying seaweed, with the egg cases of Whelks caught amongst them, like lumps of bubble wrap. There were also a couple of “mermaid’s purses”. I looked them up on the website of the Shark Trust’s Great Eggcase Hunt.  The smaller brown one was just under 9 cm, so it was too big to belong to the Small Spotted Catshark or Dogfish, whose egg cases are only about 4 cm long. I think it came from a Nursehound, another kind of dogfish or catshark, Scyllorhinus stellaris.

There are about four different square black ones, but the case of the Thornback Ray Raja clavata looks like about the right size and shape.

After lunch in a shelter near the Floral Pavilion, we decided it was too windy to stay, so we headed back to Morrison’s for the bus home.

Public transport details: Bus 432 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.18, arriving King’s Parade / Robson Street (Morrison’s) at 10.43. Returned on the 432 bus outside Morrison’s at 1.25, arriving Liverpool 1.51.

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MNA Fungi Foray Dibbinsdale 29th Sept 2019

The hardy members of the MNA who ventured into a rather wet and squelchy Dibbinsdale for the annual fungi foray were rewarded by a few nice mycological finds. Stump Puffball Lycoperdon pyriforme, Dryads Saddle Polyporus squamosus, King Alfred’s Cake’s Daldinia concentrica, White Brain Exidia thuretiana, Southern Bracket Ganoderma adspersum, Deciever Laccaria laccata, Amethyst Deciever Laccaria amethystine, Wet Rot Coniophora puteana, Scaly Earthball Scleroderma verrucosum, Blushing Bracket Daedaleopsis confragosa, Glistening Inkcap Coprinellus micaceus, Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare, Coral Spot Nectria cinnabarina, Crested Coral Clavulina coralloides, Rancid Bonnet Mycena olida, Iodine Bonnet Mycena filopes, Golden Waxcap Hygrocybe chlorophana and the beauties below:-

Jellybaby Leotia lubrica
Twig Parachute Marasmiellus ramealis
Tan Ear Otidea alutacea
Yellow Club Clavulinopsis helvola
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Dibbinsdale, 29th September 2019

It had rained hard all week, and as we gathered outside Bromborough Rake station with members of the MNA for a fungal foray, one or two of the hardier souls trekked down the steep path on a recce to the deep valley of the stream and came back to report two inch floods on the bridges and much mud underfoot. The MNA decided to soldier on, but we weren’t feeling quite that adventurous, so we took the train one stop further back to Spital, where we entered the Brotherton Park and Dibbinsdale LNR from the north end, on a reasonably flat and solid path.

It was a narrow way, wet and drippy under the trees. The only fungi we saw were some big mushrooms, possibly the edible species, but we didn’t try them. Autumn continues to be fruitful, with many acorns underfoot, huge crops of dark red Hawthorn berries and the red fruiting spikes of  Wild Arum brightening the shadows under the hedge. There were still some plants in flower. The Bramble had put out yet another generation of blossom and the white trumpets of Bindweed were scrambling everywhere. Lower down were flowers of Hogweed, Dandelion, Wood Avens, Red Dead-nettle, a shy little geranium-type which was probably Dovesfoot Cranesbill, and down the bank was a stand of Himalayan Balsam.

We heard some strange noises, and decided it was either Magpies or Jays having a fight, but we saw nothing. Later a Jay flew off. Some of us caught a couple of brief glimpses of a Bullfinch, and on the way back we found a Great Spotted Woodpecker in an almost-bare tree, silhouetted against the leaden sky.

It was getting far too wet for comfort or pleasure, so we ate our sandwiches in the shelter on Spital station and decided to call it a day.

Public transport details: The Chester train from Central at 10.15, arriving Bromborough Rake at 10.35. Returned from Spital station at 12.50, arriving Liverpool at 1.15.

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Calderstones Park and Strawberry Field, 22nd September 2019

Right on cue for the equinox, we had rain and high wind on Saturday night, so Sunday morning looked like autumn, with turning leaves and the threat of rain.

We entered Calderstones Park from the Ballantrae Road end, and noticed for the first time several rare Maple trees bordering the path. One had 7-point leaves and sticky-out seed wings, so it might have been a Japanese or Korean Maple; another had little tri-lobed rounded leaves with chunky maple-type seeds, which looked vaguely similar to a Paperbark Maple, but it wasn’t; and one with leaves like Lilac, reddish leaf stalks and tiny fruits could have been Pére David’s Maple Acer davidii. The trouble with Calderstones is that it is so packed with rarities, many of them aren’t in any of my books. A tree near there that I DO know is the Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron gigantea, which despite its size, is younger than us all. It’s nicknamed the Churchill tree and was planted for his funeral in 1965.

In the Ornamental Garden we looked at a pair of Mimosa trees, showing the buds of their yellow pom-pom flowers, which come out very early, and the brown hanging pods of this year’s seeds. A small Katsura tree hadn’t started its leaf change to bright yellow yet. We also looked at what we thought was a Strawberry Tree with big red fruits. But the leaves weren’t serrated and now I realise it was a huge Chinese Dogwood Cornus kousa ‘Chinensis’.

The Common Walnut tree on the corner looked very sick, and hadn’t produced any nuts, even in this most favourable summer. It looks as if it has been infested with something, making the leaves spotty and prematurely brown.

They have finished refurbishing the Mansion House, and there are now magnificent loos and a much better café. The view out of the window of the Maple tree by the door is terrific.

They have also properly re-housed the Calder Stones, after which the district and the park are named. There is a good explanatory exhibition. They are believed to be the remains of an ancient tomb and burial mound, which stood on the border of Wavertree and Allerton.  An 1825 report on them says “… in digging about them, urns made of the coarsest clay, containing human dust and bones, have been discovered.” Modern archaeologists shudder!  They used to be set in a circle on a small traffic island, close to their original spot. They were moved some decades ago to an old greenhouse in the park for safe-keeping until they could decide what to do with them. It’s good to finally see them on proper display.

We lunched by the pond in the Old English Garden, a popular sandwich-eating spot. The local birds know this, of course, and we were treated to close views of Robin, Chaffinch, Great Tits, Magpies, Wood Pigeons and a cheeky Grey Squirrel. Then we went to look for the rare Golden Rain tree, which until this year was hemmed in by dark Hollies and Yews. They were removed during the refurbishment of the Mansion House, and I hoped it had flourished in the new light conditions. We couldn’t find it. The narrow trunk that last winter I thought was it turned out to be a Wild Rose, so, sadly, I think the Golden Rain tree has been removed. That’s a loss, as it is the only one I knew of in the Liverpool city region. We did spot a Persian Ironwood, though, and what appeared to be a variegated Sweet Chestnut, with green glossy leaves with white edges, and typical, but small seeds. I’ve never read that such a variety exists, but that’s what it looked like.

Then we walked in the rain, through the park and up Beaconsfield Road to Strawberry Field. It’s the old Salvation Army orphanage immortalised in the Beatles song, and the site was always closed.  Beatles tourists have written on the ornate gates and the gateposts for many years.

The Salvation Army have finally cottoned on to the revenue potential of the site, and have landscaped the grounds and built a new modern café, exhibition space and gift shop. The income will fund a programme to help young people with leaning difficulties get into work. It opened last weekend, and all areas except the exhibition itself are free to enter. We wandered around the rather raw new grounds, and admired the group of raised beds, full of Strawberry plants. The front gates are now replicas, and the old gates are being set up as a shrine in the gardens.

The gift shop was selling the usual t-shirts, greetings cards, mugs, fridge magnets and similar nick-knacks. But we were charmed by small jars of Strawberry Jam (£4). I hope they do well. When we arrived a coach party was just leaving, and as we headed to the bus stop a taxi marked “Fab Four Taxi Tour” was just drawing up.

Public transport details: Bus 86 from Liverpool ONE bus station at 10.25, arriving Mather Avenue / Ballantrae Road at 10.55.  Returned from Menlove Avenue / Yewtree Road on the 76 at 2.20, arriving Liverpool 2.55.

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Lister Drive Library and Newsham Park, 15th September 2019

It was Heritage Open Day, a chance to see inside buildings that are usually private. From the bus stop in Tuebrook we walked up Green Lane in a fine drizzle, past my old primary school. In the corner of the lawn of Stoneycroft United Reform Church was a Hazel tree, bearing just a few sparse poorly-formed hazelnuts. I have been told that the nuts don’t develop in Liverpool, the soil is wrong, but this Hazel is trying!

We were heading for Lister Drive library, the public library that my brother and I went to every week when we were children in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s one of the libraries donated by the millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and it opened in 1905. It was wonderfully ornate, and is a Grade II Listed Building. Sadly, by 2006 it had deteriorated due to underfunding, and was closed. Now, with the help of a grant of £3.9 million from the National Lottery (with additional funding from Liverpool City Council, the Hornby Trust and the Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust) it has been leased to the community group “Lister Steps” and is being renovated for use as a children’s nursery and Community hub.

We headed to the nearby Newsham Park for lunch. The small boating lake was being used by some members of the model boat club, who were driving their model battleship about. Happily, they were careful not to disturb several Mallards, a family of Coots with three young ones, and three Mute Swans, one with a blue Darvic ring 4DCP on its right leg. It  was reported to Steve Christmas of the NW Swan Study, who replied that 4DCP was ringed as a male cygnet on 19 Sep 2018 at Sefton Park and was also recorded at Newsham Park on 13 Jun 2019.

Then we walked along Gardner’s Drive. There was a call of a Ring-necked Parakeet and then we spotted a couple of them flying overhead. That’s the first time we’ve seen them in Newsham Park, although they are spreading rapidly through Merseyside. A Robin was singing from the shrubbery. Is it starting to establish a territory already? There was a dark-backed gull on the grassy verge, stamping its feet to bring up the worms. Most of us were sure it was a Lesser Black-backed Gull but our expert John was adamant that if it had pink legs and a red spot on its beak it was a Herring Gull, darkish back notwithstanding.

There were a few young trees which had been planted two or three years ago in fencing cages. Such protective cages prevent normal mowing of the grass around the trees, so they get ragged, untidy weeds filling the inside space. To our surprise, each of the six young trees seemed to have different plants growing around them. One looked like it had had yellow Rapeseed flowers, while another was still blue with Borage. The others were different again, but we couldn’t tell what they had been from the gone-over remains. Is this guerrilla planting? A project by the Friends of the Park?

It is turning out to be a very good year for the autumn berry crop. Several Swedish Whitebeams were heavy with berries, which were still orange, not yet red. A nearby tree was thickly covered with red berries like Haws, but the leaves were wrong for Hawthorn, not lobed at all. Each fruit had a single large seed. I think it was probably a Broad-leaved Cockspur Thorn Crataegus persimilis ‘Prunifolia’.

Then we made our way back over the big field to the bus stop. A flock of about 30 Starlings flew up into the trees and made a lot of twittering and whistling.  Several dozen Black-headed Gulls loitered in the open field, and there was one Common Gull standing off on its own, as is typical for the species.

Public transport details: Bus 15 from Queen Square at 10.01, arriving West Derby Road / Green Lane at 10.15. Returned from West Derby Road / New Road on the 12 bus at 1.38, arriving Liverpool City Centre at 2.05.  

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