Leasowe is on the north coast of the Wirral, a known area for birds, and even the Merseyrail station signs tell people what to look for.
It was a very blowy day, but there is a very high bank there, part of the sea defences, and we stayed in its shelter all day, not seeing the sea at all. From Moreton station we headed down Pasture Road and turned left into the Wirral Coastal Park, along the path by the river Birket. The hedgerows were bare and wintry, with hardly any berries or flowers, just a few dried up Haws, but House Sparrows were chirping and there were two Mallards on the Birket. The Alders are beginning to show signs of next year’s spring, putting out thick brown catkins.
In a wet field near the lighthouse a few dozen Black-headed Gulls were huddling in a puddle, accompanied by a handful of Lapwings.
Near Lingham Farm there was a Kestrel surveying the horse fields from the top of a telegraph pole, and a Robin hopping about in some thorny bushes. Flock of Starlings dropped in, then wheeled off again, and some flights of 50 or 100 Lapwings came up in the distance. Was there a bird of prey scaring them? Occasionally we heard the bubbling call of a Curlew, but we didn’t see it. We were looking for any sheltered seats to have our lunch, but they were all on the top of the bank, where it was almost too windy to stand upright. So we settled onto a big square stone block by the side of the path, with a view of Leasowe lighthouse.
The only flowers we saw were some just breaking out on the Ivy, and the bright yellow of the Gorse. There is an old country joke that goes “When gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season”. Of course, Gorse is ALWAYS in bloom!
We returned by a way we’d not taken before, northwards on the Wirral Circular Trail along the Birket on the other side of Pasture Road. It was another sheltered path, running alongside the Typhoo Tea factory, and it led us to a different station. There were two Moorhens on the river bank, and we could hear a Buzzard calling, but we didn’t see it. A single bumble bee flew past us groggily at head height. Was this a fertile queen which had emerged from hibernation? There’s hardly anything for her to eat, unless she can get some nectar from the Gorse or Ivy. The only other berries we saw today were these on an evergreen shrub, probably some kind of non-native Pittosporum, either Mock Orange or Australian Laurel.
Public transport details: Train from Central towards West Kirby at 10.05, arriving Moreton 10.25. Returned from Leasowe Station at 1.43, arriving Liverpool at 2.10.
Next few weeks:
15th December, Parkgate for Christmas lunch. Meet Sir Thomas Street at 10.15 am. No more walks then until 19th January 2020.
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.