Dibbinsdale 4th October 2015

MNA Dibbinsdale Bonnet Fungi1

Clustered Bonnet

Despite the weather being dry for the past week I was hopeful to find some Fungi during my morning wander around Dibbinsdale. A mixture of common species to begin with Candlesnuff Fungus Xylaria hypoxylon, Porcelain Fungus Oudemansiella mucida, Clustered Bonnet Mycena inclinata, Common Bonnet Mycena galericulata, Many-zoned Polypore Coriolis (Trametes) versicolor, Jelly Rot Phlebia tremellosa, Root Rot Heterobasidion annosum, Coral Spot Fungus Nectria cinnabarina and an unidentified white encrusting fungi.

MNA Dibbinsdale Sheathed Woodtuft1

Sheathed Woodtuft

A nice group of Sheathed Woodtuft Kuehneromyces mutabilis were growing on a mossy Birch log, the scaly looking stipe darker below the raggedy ring. Following the path around the base of the sandstone cliff I found five Scaly Earthballs Scleroderma verrucosum on a bed of Liverwort and had a scramble to photograph a cluster of poisonous Shaggy Scalycap Pholiota squarrosa growing at the base of a Beech Tree.

MNA Dibbinsdale Earthball Group1

Scaly Earthball

MNA Dibbinsdale Shaggy Scalycap1

Shaggy Scalycap

Close to the Ranger’s Office at Woodslee Cottages I found Upright Coral Ramaria stricta and a lonesome Collared Earthstar Geastrum triplex. Passing Woodslee Pond and returning through the wood to the cliff viewpoint I had a group of Cup fungi Peziza sp. growing at the base of a Birch Tree.

MNA Dibbinsdale Coral Fungi

Upright Coral

MNA Dibbinsdale Cup Fungi

Peziza sp.

Green Shield Bugs Palomena prasina were sunning themselves on the Bramble leaves at the edge of Bodens Hay Meadow with four adult and 14 nymphs counted. There were also 3 adult Red-legged Shieldbugs Pentatoma rufipes that were camera shy and hid under leaves when I approached.

MNA Dibbinsdale Green Shield Bug Nymph1

Green Shieldbug nymphs

The umbellifers were over so not much in the way of Hoverflies except a lone Heliophilus pendulus. Plants still flowering included Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera, Hedge Bindweed Calystegia sepium, Water Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpioides, Hedge Woundwort Stachys sylvatica, Water Mint Mentha aquatica and Common Ragwort Senecio jacobaea.

I had a yaffling Green Woodpecker as well as a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker. A Buzzard was trying its best to imitate a Sparrowhawk flying after a Great Tit through the trees – lacking the Sparrowhawk’s manoeuvrability the Great Tit escaped.

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.

Posted in MNA reports | Comments Off on Dibbinsdale 4th October 2015

New Ferry, 4th October 2015

37 New Ferry shore

Another lovely day, sunny and bright. The terminus of the 464 bus is next to an open field with a river view, which is part of Shorefields Nature Park. It overlooks the mud flats where the Great Eastern was broken up. The tide was out and there were lots of birds on all that lovely mud. Black-headed gulls, Lesser Black-backs and Herring Gulls of course, and a small group of Mallards or Teal. Several Curlews were stalking about, and we heard their calls almost constantly. Two Shelduck were skimming the wet algal layer on the top of the mud. Later in the day two Herons appeared. In the field were Crows and  Magpies, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew from one tree to another. Further along there were 50-60 Redshank with a Great Black-backed Gull keeping watch.

37 New Ferry birds on shore

We spotted an interesting tree right away. To the north of the open field there’s a road called Shore Bank with a row of Lombardy Poplars, and at the river end there’s an unusual and handsome dark-leaved tree that we didn’t recognise. The leaves were like Ash, but smaller, and the top surface of the leaflets was dark and glossy. The twigs were also Ash-like, but the buds were dark purple, not black as in the common Ash. There were no seeds to give us a clue. I broke off a twig to bring home and I think it’s the infrequent Narrow-leaved Ash Fraxinus angustifolia, which Mitchell (the tree expert) says is usually only found in parks in southern England.

37 New Ferry Narrow leaved Ash

37 New Ferry Ash twig

Bright red berries were everywhere. Rowan and Hawthorn, of course, and the hedgerows had Black Briony, Honeysuckle and Rose Hips. The Elder bushes were weighed down with large bunches of their black berries.

37 New Ferry Rowan

37 New Ferry Elderberries

At the southern end there are steps down to the shore, then another flight up into Port Sunlight River Park. The Ragwort is still in fine flower, and we also noted Red Campion, Hogweed with hoverflies, and Hedgerow Cranesbill with its dainty paired flowers. There were masses of Michaelmas Daisies.

37 New Ferry Michaelmas daisies

An unidentified blue dragonfly was active over the pool, and birds included Mute Swan, Moorhen, Coot, Teal, various gulls, Black-tailed Godwits, a Little Grebe and two Snipe.

37 New Ferry Pond

While we lunched near the Ranger’s office there was a Buzzard circling overhead and a hovering Kestrel. There’s a white-barked Himalayan Birch there, and in the shrubbery some gone-over roses bore unusual black hips. Then we climbed the hill, getting better views of the Buzzard. There is a sign up saying they are strimming different sections of the top each year “to maintain the meadow for wild flowers and as a nesting area for Lapwings and Skylarks”. There was at least one Skylark in residence, which we heard before we saw. Another surprising bird was a female Wheatear on the path, perhaps a bird from further north, already on migration. From the summit there are great views of Liverpool.

37 New Ferry Liverpool view

At the very top there’s a lovely sinuous bench and an amusing wooden birdwatcher. The bench  is by the sculptor Mike Owens, and perhaps the birdwatcher is, too. The base of the bench has drawings of local birds.

37 New Ferry birdwatcher and bench

37 New Ferry Curlew on bench

It became so warm that we had to take off some layers. Not bad for October! A Large White butterfly was still on the wing, and there was a Speckled Wood in the lower hedgerows. A Teasel head was covered with the fluff from Rosebay Willow Herb seeds.  The commoner trees were also heavy with seeds. Great bunches of Ash keys are still on the trees, and this Sycamore bore seeds with the wings at quite a wide angle, more than the “regulation” 90 degrees and almost as wide as those of Norway Maple, but it was definitely a Sycamore.

37 New Ferry Sycamore seeds

Many of the trees we saw from the bus today were taking on their autumn colours, but turning unevenly on the same tree. One branch might still have green leaves, while another has turned a glorious colour. I don’t remember seeing that to such a degree in previous years. Here’s a Maple from near the houses on Shorefields.

37 New Ferry Maple blaze

Twice on the bus journey home I was startled to catch glimpses of trees with wholly yellow foliage, but I couldn’t stop to check what they were. They were probably Golden Ash Fraxinus excelsior ‘Jaspidea’. One tree nursery’s blurb describes it as “An eye-catching tree, with glorious, long lasting, butter yellow autumn colours in mid to late October.” Here’s a picture of one in Nantes Arboretum, courtesy of the French GardenBreizh website.

37 New Ferry Golden Ash

By the way, remember that grafted and broken Willow-leaved Pear in Princes Park a few weeks ago? There’s a pair of far better-looking ones in St John’s Gardens in Liverpool, one on the Central Library side and one opposite the Marriott Hotel.

37 New Ferry Willow leaved pear St Johns

Public transport details: Bus 464 towards New Ferry from Sir Thomas Street at 10.15, arriving at the terminus at Shorefields / Pollitt Square at 10.55. Returned from same stop on the 464 at 2.32. arriving Liverpool City Centre at 3.05

Here is the plan for the next few Sundays:
11th October, No walk – MNA coach trip
18th October, Stadt Moers Park – meet 10am Lime Street Station
25th October, Trans-Pennine Trail 11, Gateacre to Hunts Cross – 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.

Posted in Sunday Group | Comments Off on New Ferry, 4th October 2015

Peru September 2015

MNA Inca Art

After visiting Belize and Guatemala last year to indulge in a bit of Mayan culture now it was the turn of the Incas with a couple of weeks in Peru. We experienced a variety of sites including the inevitable Machu Picchu, the fortified complex of Saksaywaman on the hilltop overlooking Cusco, the pre-Incan burial chullpas at Sillustani and the Uros Indians on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca.

MNA Machu Pichu1

Birding included a variety of Andean specialities including Andean Goose, Puna Teal, Andean Duck, White-tufted Grebe, Lake Titicaca Grebe, Chilean Flamingo, Puna Ibis, Andean Condor – in the gorgeous setting of Colca Canyon, Andean Flicker, Mountain Caracara, Aplomado Faclon, Andean Negrito etc…

MNA Andean Condor1

Andean Condor

Mammals included Northern Viscacha Lagidium peruanum, Guinea Pig Cavia porcellus, Guanaco Lama guanicoe, Llama Lama glama, Vicuña Vicugna vicugna and Alpaca Vicugna pacos.

Unfortunately I had a bad bout of food poisoning  – probably a dodgy trout – so there is not the usual diverse range of wildlife pics – still a few though :)

MNA Peru Bug Adult1

Bug adult

MNA Peru Bug Nymph1

Bug nymph

MNA Peru Butterfly1

Catula Crescent Dagon catula

MNA Peru Caterpillar1

Spiky Caterpillar

MNA Peru Corpse1

Corpse Of The Trip

MNA Peru Moth1

Arctiid Moth Symphlebia fulminans

MNA Peru Thorn Bug1

Treehopper a.k.a. Thorn Bug Alchisme sp.

At a local market in Arequipa there were a few seafood stalls.

MNA Peru Octopus1


MNA Peru Crab1

‘Punk’ Crab

MNA Peru Seafood1

Shellfish meat – possibly Chiton sp.

MNA Peru Guinea Pig1

Local dish of Cuy – guinea pig

A wide photographic selection of birds, marine life, insects, mammals, orchids & wildflowers, fungi, tribal people, travel, ethnography, fossils, hominids, rocks & minerals etc. is available on my Alamy webpage

Posted in MNA reports | Comments Off on Peru September 2015

Trans-Pennine Trail 10, Knotty Ash to Gateacre, 27th September 2015

36 TPT10 Fingerpost

It’s getting autumnal now, but it was a beautiful day with hardly a cloud in the sky. It’s turning out to be a wonderful season for fruit and seeds, and the Hawthorn is putting on huge displays of red berries.

36 TPT10 Hawthorn

The trail in this section is a dark shady tunnel almost all the way along. Wayside flowers included Ragwort, one of the Knapweeds, Herb Robert, Woody and Black Nightshades, Michaelmas Daisies, seed-heads of Wood Avens, Bindweed and a crucifer with four-petalled yellow flowers and bulgy seeds with longish beaks, which I think might have been Black Mustard. Another one that foxed us was something in the Bistort family. The flowers were branched and very pale pink, almost white, and the stems were green. Despite this I think it was most likely to be the common Redleg, Persicaria maculosa, which is supposed to have red flowers and stems, but it was probably less coloured in deep shade.

36 TPT10 Redleg perhaps

Sycamore Tar Spot Fungus is said to be a sign of clean air, occurring in the country but not usually in towns. However, we spotted it all along the trail, even right next to the underpass below the Motorway and Bowring Park Road.

36 TPT10 Tar spot

We lunched at a picnic table in a rare sunny spot with a splendid view over playing fields to Childwall All Saints church.

36 TPT10 Childwall view

A small detour took us around the small park called Alderman John Village Garden, where I picked a Lime leaf and a seed head hanging from its yellowing bract.

36 TPT10 Lime leaf and seed

Back on the trail I was hoping to collect leaves and seeds of Field Maple, Sycamore and Norway Maple, to compare them, but could I find a Norway Maple? Nope. This picture has just the Sycamore leaf and seed-pair and the much smaller Field Maple leaf lying on it, with its seeds sticking almost straight out.

36 TPT10 Sycamore and Field Maple

Our last wildlife note was a Grey Squirrel in Belle Vale Park.  On this tenth section of the Trans-Pennine Trail we walked a further 3 miles of it, taking us to 23½ miles from Southport.

Public transport details: Bus 10A from Queen Square at 10.00, arriving East Prescot Road opposite Sainsbury’s at 10.25. Returned on 14A bus at Childwall Valley Road outside Belle Vale shopping centre at 2.10, arriving Liverpool 2.35.

Posted in Sunday Group | Comments Off on Trans-Pennine Trail 10, Knotty Ash to Gateacre, 27th September 2015

Bidston Lighthouse, 20th September 2015

35 Bidston lighthouse

The first yellowing leaves were falling from the Lime trees in Crosby this morning, so autumn is in the air. As we climbed up St George’s Way to Bidston Hill the low shrubs and grass glistened with the flat, dewy webs of a sheetweb spider from the genus Linyphia, and Linyphia triangularis is the commonest. The spider itself is supposed to lurk beneath the web, but we didn’t spot any.

35 Bidston sheetweb

Heather and Gorse were still out, and we spotted some flowers of Yellow Balsam.  We lunched at the top, admiring the views to Liverpool City Centre one way, and to Point of Air lighthouse and the Great Orme in the other direction.

35 Bidston view

Bidston Lighthouse is behind the Observatory, and I had never been aware of its existence before. Bidston is further from the shore than any other lighthouse in Britain. The current building dates to 1873, and it replaced a previous one from 1771. Together with Leasowe Lighthouse below it on the shore, it was a navigational aid to help mariners through the treacherous sandbanks into Liverpool. By lining up the lights of Leasowe and Bidston, ships could follow the safe channel.

On the way back to the windmill we spotted a large cluster of Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria under the Birch and Gorse. There were a dozen or more of them, with small ones still coming up. The largest was 7 or 8 inches across.

35 Bidston Amanita red

Further under the same undergrowth were some pale brown ones. Were they just poorly-pigmented ones of the same species, or were they the rarer Royal Fly Agaric Amanita regalis?

35 Bidston Amanita brown

Inside a barn at Tam o’ Shanter urban farm a pair of Swallow parents were busily feeding three chicks, which were out of the nest and perching on a rafter. One of the staff said it was that pair’s fourth brood of the summer and that the farm has had its best-ever year for Swallows.

35 Bidston Swallows

Then we went into Flaybrick Cemetery. The leaves on one of the big old Lime trees were curling up and the fruits were hanging in clusters from yellowing bracts.

35 Bidston Lime tree

35 Bidston Lime fruit

One late bloom of the orange flower Fox and Cubs had a Hoverfly on it, perhaps from the genus Eupeodes.

35 Bidston Hoverfly

Other trees noted were a False Acacia or Locust Tree, Robinia pseudoacacia, and this Hornbeam with small leaves and no seed clusters that I could see, which may be of the variety “Fastigiata”.

35 Bidston Hornbeam fastigiata

Public transport details: Bus 437 towards West Kirby from Sir Thomas Street at 10.05, arriving Upton Road / Boundary Road at 10.28. Returned from Upton Road / Boundary Road on the 437 bus at 3.39, arriving Liverpool 3.55.

Posted in Sunday Group | Comments Off on Bidston Lighthouse, 20th September 2015

Princes Park, 13th September 2015

We had a later start today because of a Heritage Open Day appointment at noon at Princes Road Synagogue. In Upper Parliament Street there was a large orange and black ladybird on a shrub-sized Italian Alder. It was as big or bigger than the common British Seven-spot Ladybird, so doubtless one of those invasive and variable Harlequins.

34 Princes ladybird

The Synagogue tour and talk was most interesting.

34 Princes synagogue

Afterwards we set off along Princes Avenue towards Princes Park for our belated lunch. Princes Park, like Botanic Park, is Grade II* listed. It was designed by Joseph Paxton and opened in 1842, one of the first parks in England to have public access.

We spent the next hour or so looking for trees. According to the Tree Register‘s database,  there are supposed to be two Indian Bean Trees in the park, one the County Champion for height and the other the County Champion for girth, located on the north west edge. We took that to be somewhere along the Croxteth Road edge, but they were nowhere to be seen. There was a splendid Hornbeam, though, with four or five trunks and a lovely spreading shape.

34 Princes Hornbeam

There were no birds of interest on the lake and lawns, just Mallard, Canada Geese, Magpie and Black-headed Gulls. We found another tree we were hunting for, just north of the lake. It was a Willow-leafed Pear, Pyrus salicifolia, the County Champion for girth, at 154cm (about 5 feet) and a height of 20 ft. Sadly, some of the branches have broken off at the shoulder-height graft, making it lopsided. The little pear fruits are said to be inedible, hard and astringent.

34 Princes willow leafed pear

34 Princes willow-leafed pear fruit

On the subject of trees, I was at Chester Zoo last week and went to look at the trees on the Oakfield lawn. The two big Cedars that I remembered being there weren’t Cedars of Lebanon at all, but Himalayan Cedars or Deodars, Cedrus deodara, which are thought to be over 100 years old. They have the same upright cones as Cedrus libani, but the form of the tree doesn’t have the flat “plates”, and the foliage is subtly different. I wonder if the trees we recently identified as “Cedars of Lebanon” (in Botanic Gardens and St Chad’s Kirkby) were really Himalayan Cedars?

34 Zoo Deodar

34 Zoo Deodar cones

Public transport details: 86 bus from Liverpool ONE bus station at 11.15, arriving Upper Parliament Street / Sandon Street at 11.35. Returned on 82 bus from Park Road / Gredington Street on 82 bus at 3.05, arriving Liverpool ONE bus station at 3.15.


Posted in Sunday Group | Comments Off on Princes Park, 13th September 2015

Dibbinsdale 5th September 2015

Morning wander around Dibbinsdale, a nice early find was a sticky Beefsteak Fungus Fistulina hepatica. I headed to the area where I found the erupting Common Stinkhorn Phallus impudicus last weekend – no emerged specimen or characteristic smell about though. I did find another Stinkhorn egg, plus Ochre Brittlegill Russula ochroleuca, another slug damaged Russula, a few Beech Milkcaps Lactarius blennius, the ubiquitous King Alfred’s Cakes Daldinia concentrica and in the process upset a nutzy who started chittering at me from a tree for invading his patch.

MNA Dibbinsdale Beech Milkcap1

Beech Milkcap

MNA Dibbinsdale Bitter Beech Bolete1

Bitter Beech Bolete

Further along I had a few Boletus sp.including a cutey little Bitter Beech Bolete Boletus calopus. Plenty of Oak Knopper Galls Andricus quercuscalicis mostly green in colour with one attractive red one and on the underside of an Oak leaf was both Common Spangle Galls Neuroterus quercusbaccarum and Silk Button Galls Neuroterus numismalis allowing comparison.

MNA Dibbinsdale Acorn Gall1

Oak Knopper Gall

The sun peaked through the clouds and a Chiffchaff started to call and a few Blackcaps began their stone-tapping call. Again I noted squawking Jays, calling Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch. A couple of flowering plants that I also noted last weekend were Meadow Vetchling Lathyrus pratensis and Red Bartsia Odontites vernus.

Autumn clearly on its way in a sheltered spot near Spital Fields with ripe Sloes on the Blackthorn Prunus spinosa and Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna berries. A couple of Speckled Woods Pararge aegeria flitted about in a small glade.

MNA Dibbinsdale Hoverfly Myathropa florea1

Myathropa florea

Returned to Bodens Hey meadow and nosed amongst the umbellifers for Insects finding Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus 2, Hoverfly Leucozona glaucia female, Hoverfly Myathropa florea 2-3, Hoverfly various Eristalis sp. 8+ Tachnid Fly Tachina fera 12+ and a few Sawfly species.

MNA Dibbinsdale Tachina fera1

Tachina fera

The Dog Roses Rosa canina held plenty of Green Shield Bugs Palomena prasina with four adult and half a dozen nymphs at various stages of development.

MNA Dibbinsdale Green Sheildbugs1

Green Shield Bugs

Numerous Craneflies taking off from underfoot as I walked along including this stretching Tipula paludosa.

MNA Dibbinsdale Cranefly Stretch

Cranefly Tipula paludosa

Butterflies included lone Large White Pieris brassicae, Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas and Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus. I also disturbed a Common Frog Rana temporaria and a Raven flew overhead croaking.

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.

Posted in MNA reports | Comments Off on Dibbinsdale 5th September 2015

Botanic Gardens, Wavertree, 6th September 2015

Botanic Gardens is the oldest Liverpool park. It was originally a private walled botanic garden, opened in 1836, making it 30 or 40 years older than any of Liverpool’s other city parks.  It has recently been Grade II* listed by Historic England.

33 Botanic red beds

Our happiest find was several specimens of the uncommon Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima.  After not finding one on the Tree Trail at Reynolds Park last year (it was a mis-labelled Black Walnut) we were delighted to be able to have a good look at the leaves with multiple leaflets, each with a couple of big teeth at the stalk end and uneven at the base. One tree had some clusters of ash-like seeds, confirming that this definitely wasn’t a Black Walnut.

33 Botanic Tree of Heaven leaf

33 Botanic Tree of Heaven seeds

Birds are still quite thin on the ground. The shrubberies had Blackbird, Robin and Wood Pigeon, while Swallows swept low over the lawns and a few Magpies loitered about. Speckled Woods danced in glades, and the few flowers still in bloom attracted a Large White butterfly. One of the prettiest flowering shrubs was this pink and blue Lacecap Hydrangea.

33 Botanic Hydrangea

Several other trees puzzled us. The one with the red berries was probably some variety of Cotoneaster. One with oak-like leaves might have been Swedish Whitebeam while one big tree had thick leaves that surely belonged to some kind of Fig, although we couldn’t see any fruit on it.

33 Botanic Fig leaf

One very handsome conifer had drooping, ferny foliage similar to Cypresses. I think it was a “Western Red Cedar” Thuja plicata, which isn’t a Cedar at all, it’s part of the Juniper/Thuja group.

33 Botanic W Red Cedar

The main lawn is bordered by an avenue of London Planes. This area used to have two seated statues, said to be of Tam O’Shanter and Souter Johnny, but they were so badly damaged that they were removed in 2013. There are pictures of them on the Liverpool Monuments website.

33 Botanic lawn and Planes

At the northern edge of the same lawn, just above the steps, there is a derelict fountain. Right next to it is a Cedar of Lebanon, which would make a splendid focal point for a sight line, except that it is partially obscured by a tall spindly Gingko!

33 Botanic Cedar and Gingko

After lunch we returned to the garden entrance, where we spotted a Grey Wagtail in the derelict ground where the old greenhouses used to be. Then we set off through the houses to Newsham Park, past the boarded-up church of St John the Divine C of E, Fairfield. Although it’s a lovely-looking small church, it was authorised for demolition in Aug 2008 because the spire was said to be in danger of collapse. There has been a local campaign to save it and, so far, it still stands.

33 Botanic St John the Divine Fairfield

Photo originally from Geograph, and may be reused subject to this creative commons usage licence

Model boats were being put through their paces on Newsham Park Boating lake, ignored by the Canada Geese and Mallards. On the main lake we added Moorhen and Coots, while grassy areas held Black-headed Gulls, Carrion Crows and a Grey Squirrel.  There was a small patch of late wildflower meadow on the edge of the big field, and in the former Rose Garden we came across a group of volunteer Friends, tidying up a flower bed. They told us the wildflowers were theirs, planted from seeds donated by Kew to Community Groups.

33 Botanic Newsham wildflowers

Public transport details: Bus number 7 from Queen Square at 10.23 towards Huyton, arriving Edge lane / Deane Road at 10.40. Returned from West Derby Road, Tuebrook, some by the 15 bus at 14.15 towards Liverpool, arriving  14.30.

Posted in Sunday Group | Comments Off on Botanic Gardens, Wavertree, 6th September 2015

Dibbinsdale 30th August 2015

I had a morning wander around Dibbinsdale – my new local patch. Birdlife included Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, some vociferous Jays, Buzzard, Bullfinch, a party of Long-tailed Tits and Song Thrush.

MNA Dibbinsdale Artichoke Gall1

Oak Artichoke Gall

The Oaks were infected with a variety of Galls caused by Gall Wasps including Oak Marble Gall Andricus kollari, Oak Knopper Gall Andricus quercuscalicis, Oak Artichoke Gall Andricus fecundator and Oak Common Spangle Gall Neuroterus quercusbaccarum.

MNA Dibbinsdale Dryads Saddle Fungi1

Dryads Saddle

MNA Dibbinsdale Scaly Earthball1

Scaly Earthball

Always a good spot for Fungi in the Autumn I managed to find a few species already Tar Spot Fungus Rhytisma acerinum, King Alfred’s Cakes Daldinia concentrica, Upright Coral Ramaria stricta. Dead Man’s Finger’s Xylaria polymorpha, Dryad’s Saddle Polyporus squamosus, Smoky Bracket Bjerkandera adusta, Lumpy Bracket Trametes gibbosa, Amethyst Deceiver Laccaria amethystea, Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea bootlace mycelium, Boletus sp. that had been mauled by slugs, Ochre Brittlegill Russula ochroleuca, Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare, Scaly Earthball Scleroderma verrucosum, Velvet Shield Pluteus umbrosus and a Common Stinkhorn Phallus impudicus just about to erupt from its egg.

MNA Dibbinsdale Erupting Stinkhorn1

Erupting Stinkhorn

MNA Dibbinsdale Eristalis Mint1

Tapered Dronefly Eristalis pertinax on Water Mint

Plants still in flower included Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria, Water Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpioides, Himalayan Balsalm Impatiens glandulifera, Water Mint Mentha aquatica and Teasel Dipsacus fullonum.

MNA Dibbinsdale Flower Beetle1

Thick-legged Flower Beetle

MNA Dibbinsdale Hornet Mimic Hoverfly1

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly

Hoverflies of note included a female Leucozona glaucia and a splendid Hornet Mimic Hoverfly Volucella zonaria – the largest British Hoverfly that became established here in the 1940s and has been gradually expanding its range northwards. A female Thick-legged Flower Beetle Oedemera nobilis and a Gatekeeper were seen feeding on Common Ragwort Senecio jacobaea. A Grey Dagger Acronicta psi Moth was seen resting on a Sycamore Tree trunk.

MNA Dibbinsdale Moth1

Grey Dagger Moth

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.

Posted in MNA reports | Comments Off on Dibbinsdale 30th August 2015

Ainsdale to Freshfield, 30th August 2015

32 Ainsdale pines and picnic area

It was a still, dry and sunny day, but not so warm as it has been recently, so very pleasant for walking. We turned south from the station along Mossgiel Avenue and followed the path alongside the railway. On the verges we noted Tansy, Harebell, Ragwort, Rosebay Willow Herb and masses of a pink flower which we thought was escaped garden Stock. There were a couple of Rabbits on the edge of the school playing fields. One popped swiftly down its burrow, but the other was hunched up with sore-looking eyes. It looked like it had Myxomatosis.

32 Ainsdale sick bunny

There are never many birds around at this time of year, and we saw only two Great Tits and a Wood Pigeon in this area. We saw a good butterfly, though. It was on some bare sand and it took off before we could look at it properly. It was some kind of Fritillary, probably the Dark Green Fritillary, which the reserve is proud of.
I stopped to look at a tree which looked like Sycamore but didn’t appear to be quite right. The leaf stalks (petioles) were yellow not red, the two lower lobes of the leaf were underdeveloped and the winged seeds looked paler and less vigorous. However, it had tar-spot fungus, which is specific to Sycamore. Mitchell’s Field Guide says it was a Sycamore, but bearing the signs of an old tree.

32 Ainsdale old Sycamore

Further harbingers of autumn were four Mistle Thrushes which flew up to the top of one of the tall pines, the ripening blackberries, the Hawthorn berries and Rose hips turning red and these acorns on a Sessile Oak.

32 Ainsdale Sessile acorns

The path was strewn with the cones of Corsican Pine, some of which had been chewed by squirrels, probably Reds because the greys here are controlled.

32 Ainsdale pine cones

A brown dragonfly flitted along the edge of the path, then vanished. It wasn’t reddish at all, so was it a Brown Hawker? Further flowers were Wild Carrot, Mullein, Evening Primrose, Weld and masses of Rosebay Willow Herb going to seed.

32 Ainsdale Rose bay Willow Herb

There was pink Centaury in flower in the short grass. According to the reserve signs, it is the rare Seaside Centaury here, not the Common. We also saw one plant with white flowers. However, in Blamey, Fitter and Fitter’s flower book, all the species of Centaury have a white variant shown except Seaside Centaury. It also says that Common and Seaside can hybridise. The best way to tell the difference is the oval leaves on Common and the long strap-shaped leaves on Seaside. The ones we saw had elongated oval leaves, so they must indeed be hybrids.

32 Ainsdale pink hybrid Centaury

32 Ainsdale white hybrid Centaury

There were Swallows over the greens on Formby golf course and we heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Magpies were cackling in the woods. Short bursts of sweet birdsong came from one bush, but it wasn’t a Robin, although we spotted a young Robin on the path a few moments later, just getting his its red breast. A Speckled Wood posed obligingly on a fern.

32 Ainsdale Speckled Wood

On the other side of the railway the Heather was in bloom, as was Honeysuckle, and escaped Montbretia. There were both Knopper Galls and Oak Apple galls. On Montague Road we noted Yarrow, White Dead-nettle and Honesty. A Red Squirrel scampered across from a garden to the railway and the Rowan trees had masses of red berries.

32 Ainsdale Rowan berries

A late-flowering Buddleia had both a Peacock and a Painted Lady, the latter high up and hard to see. I haven’t seen a Painted Lady this year until now, and maybe only one other Peacock. Then we saw a Holly Blue a little further along. A good day for butterflies!

32 Ainsdale Painted Lady

32 Ainsdale Peacock

Public transport details: Train from Central Station towards Southport at 10.08, arriving Ainsdale 10.43. Returned from Freshfield Station on the 14.11 train, due in Liverpool at 14.45.


Posted in Sunday Group | Comments Off on Ainsdale to Freshfield, 30th August 2015