Landican and Arrowe Park, 26th February 2017

Our plan for Landican Cemetery was to look for Brown Hares, which are known to be there, occasionally nibbling the freshly-offered bouquets of flowers. In the event only two of the group saw one (not me, so no picture). It loped off from a lawn near the CWGC enclosure into the woody cemetery edge. The rest of us were too busy looking at a fallen tree.  Storm Doris passed through last Thursday, and we saw several trees down by the roadside on the way. There were some spectacular casualties in Landican, including this snapped-off Leyland Cypress.

In the corners of the CWGC area they have planted some small ornamental trees which had clusters of bursting pink buds. Too early for cherry. Almond? But there was a single long-stemmed fruit looking like a spotty orangey rose hip, about the size of a hawthorn berry.  One of the Service Tree group?  No idea.

There were Irish Yews dotted about. They are classed as the same species as Common Yew Taxus baccata, but of the variety ‘Fastigiata’ (meaning upright or vertical). I checked about a dozen of them as I went past, to see if they were male or female. All the ones I looked at were male, with clusters of “blobs” full of pollen sporangia. When I looked them up at home the book said Irish Yews are usually all female. Huh? Then I looked at the picture again and noticed that they had yellow-edged leaves, which makes them variety ‘Fastigiata Aurea’, which are all male clones. Puzzle solved.

There weren’t many birds about. We saw the odd Great Tit and Crow, and a Buzzard passed overhead. Last week’s star turn Buzzard was worth 25 I-Spy points and took the bird total to 585 but we added no new ones today. As for mammals, there was the Hare, the odd Grey Squirrel and lines of fresh Molehills. We remarked that many of the trees had bird boxes but, unusually, they were all different shapes and sizes. All of them had memorial plaques on them, so they must be the latest fashion in remembrance.

On the opposite side of Arrowe Park Road is the old Ranger’s house, now sadly derelict.

We had our lunch on the bench there, where we were sheltered from the gusty wind. It had had a lovely garden once, with a tall Deodar, Jasmine by the door and masses of Snowdrops and Daffodils beyond the lawn. The gateway out to the Park was adorned with a huge twisted trunk of a climber, perhaps a Clematis.

The Common Yew there was also a male tree, and when it was shaken, produced clouds of pollen.

In the park, we found two more trees for our list. The first was a Lawson’s Cypress ‎Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, worth 15 points. It’s a tall, dense, columnar evergreen tree.

The foliage is dark green, said to smell a little like parsley, and the tiny leaves, pressed close to the stem, have white edges. The effect is to make each frond appear to have white diamonds or zigzags along it.

Further into the shrubbery was an even taller tree, a Giant Sequoia or Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum.

It’s another “Top Spot” 25-pointer, and we doubled those points by answering the question “The world’s most massive tree is in the Sequoia National Park in America. What is it called?” (Answer at the end). Our tree total is now 395 points. The cones are big, but not enormous, and the foliage is showing the male flowers at the tips. They ought to be yellow with pollen, but they might have been nipped by the frost.

The sun came out while I was on the way home. There was the unusual sight of all the deciduous roadside trees brightly lit by sunshine whilst still bare and grey.
(Answer: The General Sherman tree).

Public transport details: Bus 472 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.12, arriving Arrowe Park Road / Woodchurch Road at 10.48. Returned from Woodchurch Road / Church Lane, near the Arrowe Park pub, on the 471 at 1.35, arriving Liverpool city centre at 2.03.


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Kew Woods, Southport,19th February 2017

Kew Woods are under the management of the Forestry Commission, and are part of the Mersey Forest.  It’s a former landfill site off Town Lane, where 12,000 new trees and shrubs have been planted in recent years, although it’s still fairly bleak and open, with the young trees and shrubs clumped in rough grassland.

The plan today was to hunt for a small flock of six Cattle Egrets, which has been reported there for the last week or two. It was a mild day in Liverpool, but colder in the open area beyond Southport, and with the beginnings of a fine drizzle. But even the dead, damp and dormant vegetation sometimes has a strange elegance, such as this old seed head of Burdock.

On the edge of the football fields the hedges were thick with Bramble and the gullies bright with splashes of yellow reeds. A bush in the hedge was covered with tiny white buds: it wasn’t Blackthorn because the twigs weren’t black and there were no thorns. I need to look it up. The Goat Willows had red twigs, which bore the bursting catkin buds known as Pussy Willow.

There was no sign of the Cattle Egrets there, and after lunch and a loo stop in Dobbie’s Garden Centre, we headed back to the southern area of the woods.  Another tree which was sprouting early was this Elder.

We spotted a Buzzard on a fence, which was being pestered by a pack of 8 or 10 Magpies. They forced the Buzzard up into a small tree where they clustered around it, occasionally flying closely by and generally mythering it.

But the Buzzard stoically ignored them, and eventually the Magpies let it alone and it returned to its favoured spot on the fence.

Near a field with some ponies in it we met a lady who said the Cattle Egrets had been there up to Friday or Saturday, but today they had gone. Oh bother! We aren’t having much luck with our twitching this year. On the way back to the bus I stopped to admire this Hazel draped in its newly-emerged catkins.

On the way home through Victoria Park, Crosby, I found another of those shrubs with the white buds, and this one was partly out. I think it’s Cherry Plum Prunus cerasifera, which is definitely said to flower before Blackthorn.

The Flowering Currant is breaking out, too.

For the trees on the I-Spy list we claim Goat Willow (10) and Elder (10) today. From the train window we also saw the masses of Corsican Pines (20) between Ainsdale and Freshfield. We are creeping slowly towards 1000, now up to 330. Last week the bird points were up to 560, but we may not have had anything new today.

Public transport details: 300 bus from Queen Square at 10.25, arriving Town Lane Kew at 11.35. Returned from the same bus stop on the 44 at 2.03 towards Southport, arriving Eastbank Street at 2.20. Then to the station for the 2.28 train back to Liverpool.

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Bromborough 18th February 2017

An upsetting discovery when I headed out into the garden in the dawn gloom to top up the bird food. A Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus was lying dead in the metal seed tray. Although mainly nocturnal I’ve watched a pair of them on a number of occasions in the early morning since last November. Usually just a quick glimpse as they quickly run out from their hidey hole under the bottom of the fence, grab a piece of fat ball or seed before scurrying back behind the apple tree and under fence again. Their lifespan is a mere 1.5yrs, not left wanting for food let’s hope it merely died of old age, it certainly looked peaceful as if sleeping. ‘Corpse of the Day’ posed nicely on the Ivy at the base of the apple tree.

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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New Brighton (and Heswall on another unsuccessful Waxwing twitch) 12th February 2017

It was a terribly unsuitable day for New Brighton, really, with a raw north-east wind, but we wanted to see a small group of Purple Sandpipers which have been roosting at high tide on the pontoons on the Marine Lake. Our first sight was of two clusters of very similar-looking brown waders, all huddled together with their heads tucked in.

Closer inspection showed it to be a mixed flock of mostly Redshanks, with a small scattering of Turnstone, Dunlin and a few Purple Sandpipers on the edge. Occasionally one would hop about on one leg, as if they didn’t want to get their warm foot cold again!

On the picture above, all the birds on the left with the red legs are Redshanks. About two-thirds of the way to the right, the small bird in the front with the streaky breast is a Purple Sandpiper, and behind it are two or three Turnstones with their dark chest marks. The little bird on the far right with the white breast and dark legs is a Dunlin.

The Stena Line ferry to Belfast went out, past the red cranes on the docks. One tough photographer was standing on the point with a camera and tripod, getting his wellies wet, perhaps hoping for that award-winning shot.

Despite the cold we circled the Marine Lake, passing Fort Perch Rock.

There were hundreds of pigeons on the front, a pair of Mute Swans on the lake and hordes of gulls, mostly Black-headed gulls and juvenile Herring gulls.

Several Sanderlings pattered busily along the edge of the incoming tide.

It was far too cold to linger, so we executed the second part of our day’s twitching plan, Heswall, where a group of Waxwings has been reported for several weeks at the junction of Thurstaston Road and the A540. Eight were still there late yesterday afternoon (Saturday) so we thought there was a fair chance of spotting them. We got the 119 from New Brighton, which took a long and meandering route through Liscard, Birkenhead, Bidston and Upton (but at least it was warm on the bus) to Arrowe Park, where we changed to the bus for Heswall. And after all that, there were no Waxwings!  What a swizz! The Rowan the Waxwings had been in was stripped bare.

We had a late lunch in the little park there. I thought one evergreen tree was a Lawson’s Cypress (worth 15 “I-Spy” points) but now I think it was only a Leyland Cypress (worth no points at all). There was a clump of fine old Birches, but until the leaves come out and we can distinguish the Silver Birches from the Downy Birches, there are no points to collect on them either. The Rhododendrons were just starting to bud, and I don’t think I have noticed them so early in the year before.

We walked along to Tesco, hoping the Waxwings had decamped to the car park there (because supermarket car parks are a favourite Waxwing haunt) but there didn’t appear to be any berry trees, and definitely no exciting birds. At the bottom of Poll Hill Road there was a sad mutilated Scots Pine, the survivor of some extreme pruning.

The day wasn’t a complete wash-out for trees, as we saw a couple of Monkey Puzzle trees from the bus on the way home, worth 20 points, so now we have 290. The birds are doing much better.  John tells me we had 515 points up to last week, and we probably have at least 40 more today.

Near home I noticed a couple more signs of spring, this very early Camellia in flower, and the swelling furry buds of a Magnolia.

Public transport details: Bus 432 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.03, arriving Kings Parade opp. Morrison’s at 10.28. We left on bus 119 outside Morrison’s at 11.32, arriving Woodchurch Road / Church Lane at 12.20. We crossed the road and almost immediately got a 471, which took us to Telegraph Road / Quarry Road East in Heswall at 12.45. Returned on the 471 from outside Tesco at 1.40, arriving Liverpool city centre at 2.25.


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Waterloo, 5th February 2017

We started at Potter’s Barn, a Grade II listed building from 1841. It was intended to be the gate-house (with attached coach house and stables) for a larger estate, and was built as an intentional replica of the farmhouse on the battlefield of Waterloo. As we went in a Great Tit was singing very loudly from the other side of the very busy A565, competing with the traffic.  Inside the small park there was a Robin and some Magpies and House Sparrows.

We followed the path along the south side of Marine Lake. A couple of yachts were out, and the paddle boat team were training vigorously.

We peeked through the fence into Seaforth nature reserve, and spotted some rabbits, dozens of Cormorants, some Canada Geese, a couple of Skylarks pecking about, a Pied Wagtail ditto, some distant Shelduck and a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits.

As we headed northwards along Crosby Promenade we heard a Skylark singing overhead. The  Isle of Man ferry Ben-my-Chree was coming in, looming large against the Iron Men and the wind turbines.

Then back through the dunes and around the Boating Lake. Sometimes there are quite special birds dropping in, and I’ve seen a Long-tailed Duck and a Phalarope here, but today it was just  Herring Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, Mallards, Coots, a pair of Mute Swans and some Tufties. The only mild excitement was provided by two Pochards with their heads tucked in, apparently sleeping.

We lunched overlooking the Marine Lake then worked our way northwards through the four seafront gardens.

There were Daisies and Shepherd’s Purse flowering at the edges of the lawns, and some clumps of  Daffodils were a few days off flowering.

Garden birds included Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Blue Tit and Blackbird. A Dunnock sat on the top of a hedge flicking its wings, then another came along and they flew away together. Spring is in the air!  We were looking for more trees for our I-Spy list, although the pickings will be slim for a few weeks yet. We ticked this beautiful shapely Holm Oak Quercus ilex (worth 20 points).

There are several Silk Tassel trees in the seafront gardens and at this time of year, with their very long catkins out, they look extraordinary.

This shrub caught my eye, with its pretty red berries. Some kind of Laurel? No, I think it’s Japanese aucuba Aucuba japonica, a new one on me.

We returned up Harbord Road and in a garden we spotted another I-Spy tree, a Cordyline Palm, which the book (weirdly) calls a Cabbage tree. But it gives it the proper name of Cordyline australis, so it’s definitely right. It’s worth the maximum of 25 points, the first one of those we’ve ticked, and it’s marked as a “top spot!”

We were up to 225 points last week, and have 45 points today from just two trees, so now we have  270. John says we had 365 points for birds up to last week and thinks we got at least another 100 points today.  The bird-spotting will slow down soon, as new birds become harder to find, while the tree-bagging will become much easier when their leaves come out.
I walked home through Victoria Park, and spotted that the Snowdrops are now out.

Public transport details: Bus 53 from Queen Square at 10.20, arriving 10.50 at Crosby Road South / Marlborough Road. The rest of the group returned to Liverpool on the 53 from Oxford Road / Courtenay Road, due at 2.10 and arriving Queen Square 2.50.

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Sefton Park, 29th January 2017

There were Waxwings reported yesterday (Saturday) at the tunnel end of Scotland Road, so we headed that way in hope. However, although there were plenty of red-berried trees north of the JMU building, some with Redwings in them, there were no Waxwings. Maybe next week!  We jumped on a bus back to Queen Square, then immediately onto another for Liverpool ONE, and we were just in time for the bus to Sefton Park.

The Alders at the south end of the lake were looking very attractive with their cones of the old year and catkins of the new. There were about fifteen Wood Pigeons picking about under them, an unusually large number all in one place.

The lake had frozen overnight, but when we arrived it was partially melted and translucent, with many clear patches. The birds were the usual hordes of Canada Geese, Black-headed Gulls, Coots and Mallards, with a few Moorhens. About 1 in 50 of the BHGs are starting to show their black heads, but not this group standing on their reflections.

Further along we spotted some Mute Swans and a couple of well-grown cygnets. The park now has permanent signs around the railings asking people not to feed bread to the birds.

People weren’t taking any notice, though. One dad and daughter had at least four loaves of best sliced Warburton’s at their feet, and maybe more!

Too much bread is clearly a bad thing, but does it really cause Angel Wing? Some people say that it’s just a scam to make people buy the expensive bird food from the café. Most of the articles about it in the press just regurgitate RSPB press releases (which aren’t very definite), including these pieces from varied sources like the Guardian, the Express and “IFL Science”. Nothing especially authoritative.

We were bird-spotting and tree-spotting for the I-Spy lists today. We ticked off some very common trees including Holly, a Sweet Chestnut identified from the spiky husks on the ground and its spiralling bark, Turkey Oaks with their retained dead leaves and whiskery buds, Weeping Willow by the lake, a few Lombardy (Black) Poplars, and an Ash identified from the black, opposite winter buds. On the bank of the lake is a fine Atlas Cedar Cedrus atlantica.

The male Yews are showing their clusters of flowers, like little balloons of pollen sacs, each only about 3 or 4 mm across.

At the top of a tree there was a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and we heard the Ring-necked Parakeets, but couldn’t see them at first, although two flew overhead later. By the Eros fountain a wonderful Witch Hazel was in flower.

We lunched by the old aviary, where there was a Blackbird on the path and a Rat in the shrubbery. Grey Squirrels were all over the place. On the island in the lake north of the aviary, we stopped to look at a Moorhen up in a tree and then we spotted a most exciting bird below it, a Kingfisher! It was a female, and she was quite comfortable and relaxed on her perch overlooking the water, not at all bothered by the people on the path only about 50 feet (15m) away. She was watching the water below very intently, hoping for a meal, but we didn’t see her dive.

Further north again we looked at a group of trees with lots of knobbles and burrs on their trunks, and amongst the higher branches. We couldn’t identify the trees, but they didn’t look healthy. One of the low knobbles had Judas Ear fungus on it, perhaps a sign that the tree is dying.

Near the top of the stream, where there’s a little weir and waterfall, a Heron was standing statuesquely amongst the reeds and red Dogwood stems.

We followed the long avenue of London Planes southwards to the Dell. On the field were Crows, Black-headed Gulls and some juvenile Herring Gulls. We got another tree tick with the Deodar Cedar, and also noted some good ones that aren’t in the I-Spy book (dammit!) – a Dove or Handkerchief tree, a  Sweetgum / Liquidambar and a Persian Ironwood with its black oval flower buds just bursting, showing the dark red stamens within.

In the Palm House there was a concert by some ladies who were singing songs from the shows, but it wasn’t our cup of tea, so we sneaked out by a side door. It was the “biology” door (flanked by the statues of Darwin and Linnaeus) and right opposite it was a Corkscrew Hazel which I’ve not spotted before, next to an evergreen shrub.

We returned along the lake. One Coot had a white Darvic ring on its left leg – CXT. It’s been reported to Kane Brides. (Added later. He reports that  CXT was ringed in Sefton Park on 09/09/2015, so it’s about 18 months old.) There was a Cormorant on a post, a couple of greyish-looking Lesser Black-backed Gulls, some black-and-white Tufted Duck and four fluffy brown Little Grebes diving near the island.

I had hoped to see a Monkey Puzzle tree for our list today, but there doesn’t seem to be one in Sefton Park, at least not in the areas we visited. However, the Beech tree we claimed at Eastham two weeks ago is now worth double points because one of us (not me!) could answer the related question – what was a chair maker called?  (Answer at the end). But we are up to 225 points (165 of them today), nearly a quarter of the way there!  (The man who made chairs was a bodger.)

Public transport details: Bus 82 at 11.13 from Liverpool ONE bus station, which was diverted via Hope Street because of Chinese New Year, and arrived Aigburth Road / Ashbourne Road at 11.35. Returned on the 82 from Aigburth Vale / Jericho Lane at 2.50, arriving City Centre at 3.15.

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MNA Coach Trip Shropshire Meres 22nd January 2017

A misty, damp and cold day greeted the first MNA coach trip of 2017 at our favourite winter site – The Mere at Ellesmere, Shropshire. On the small wooded island a Grey Heron was already sittting on one of the nests in the Heronry and on an adjacent tree was a Little Egret. Beside the visitor centre the motley collection of farmyard Geese, Greylags, Canadas, a feral Swan Goose and numerous hydrids of dubious parentage were vociferously begging from the younger visitors and their families. A couple of Mute Swans sported blue darvic rings on their legs with alpha-numeric code 7FDD and 7FIP ringed by the Mid Wales Swan Study Group – a record of these sightings have been forwarded to Martin Grant. He tells me they are a resident pair on The Mere – the female (7FDD) was ringed as a second year in 2008. Large numbers of Coot were also in the water and strutting around in between the Geese with their disproportionately large looking grey webbed feet. A couple of these also wore darvics – white ones with the code AHA and AII – a record of these have been forwarded to Kane Brides’ North-west Coot Project.

Farmyard Goose

A few Goosanders, Goldeneye and Tufties were on the south end of the Mere, a dozen or so Great Crested Grebes in the main body of water but the majority of the wildfowl were bobbing around the north end with more Goosanders 4m 2f, Goldeneye 6m 1f, Cormorants 30+, Wigeon 72+, Tufties 30+ Mallards along with BHGs plus a Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gull. Small numbers of Blue, Great & Coal Tit, Goldcrest, a few Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Prune, Robin, Wren, Chaffinch and a charm of Goldfinches were noted. Corvids included Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and a Raven overhead. Next to the art installation of a giant Bee, a fallen tree trunk had Smoky Bracket Bjerkandera adjusta and Hairy Stereum Stereum hirsutum.

Smoky Bracket + Hairy Stereum

Barbara and co had a double-take when a Labrador passed them carrying a large fish, protruding from both sides of its mouth – probably a Pike. According to its owners it had picked the fish up from one of the small fishing platforms and was exceedingly happy with its find!

After lunch we walked through the Ellesmere Tunnel and along the towpath of the Shropshire Union Canal, a canal boat ‘The Viking’ slowly cruised by. A few feeding flocks of Blue and Great Tits along with Goldfinches were high in the trees looking silhouetted in the poor light. A Nuthatch called then was singing briefly, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, and a Jackdaw was making a strange call unlike the commonly heard chattering ‘Jack /chack.’ A twig by the path was covered in Coral Spot Fungus Nectria cinnabarina. Flat calm conditions at Blakemere with only Mallards, Cormorant and a Mute Swan in residence. Continuing along the Canal a flock of Woodpigeons along with Stock Doves and Corvids were feeding amongst a seed crop field. A Marsh/Willow Tit in the gloom seemed to lack the pale secondary panel so probably the former. A Green Woodpecker yaffled and another Great Spotted Woodpecker flew by with its distinctive undulating flight. We crossed the canal bridge beside the thatched cottages and dropped down to Colemere.

Unbelievable numbers of Goosanders in small mixed male & female flotillas all over the lake – I lost count approaching 40! We had a chat to a couple who told us about some Scaup at the far end of the lake. One of their daughters is clearly a budding photographer and showed us a picture she had taken of a Marsh/Willow Tit we agreed it looked more like a Marsh Tit. Trying not to be too blasé about the Goosanders, we also noted a few Mallards, Goldeneye, Mute Swan and Tufty. By the Colemere Sailing Club we found the adult drake Scaup and further out beside a mob of BHGs were 1st winter male and female Scaup.

We walked along the lane from Colemere turning into Wood Lane, a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers in a bare tree. Further on we spied some Redwings with yet more dotted around other nearby trees totalling around 60 birds. Some extensive sand and gravel extraction works were in progress on both sides of the lane taking advantage of the rolling drumlin fields left over from the last glacial period. Peeking through the hedge at the Shropshire Wildlife Trusts Wood Lane Nature Reserve we noted Lapwing 50+ and Shelduck on the ponds and a rather fancy looking new hide. Time was pressing though we continued down the lane crossing the main road and onto the narrow track leading to Whitemere. There had been reports of a Long-tailed Duck here recently, no joy with that but we did add Shoveler and a male Pochard to the days tally. A nice sunset through the bare winter trees on the walk back to Ellesmere.

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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Eastham, 15th January 2017

Our first walk of 2017 might have become a Waxwing hunt if any had been reported in Liverpool, but it seems they have all moved on to Warrington. (But I saw a few last week – see below.) We decided instead to go to Eastham, and perhaps meet the MNA there.

The lane off the New Chester Road was soft and muddy in parts, and the day was mild, damp and overcast. There were Magpies and gulls on the Leverhume Sports Field and Blue Tits in the trees. The big old Beech that was once Wirral’s largest tree (80 ft / 24 m tall at the end of the 20th century) is still gently rotting away. One fallen branch was covered with small Puff Balls about an inch across, the bracket fungi were covered in moss, and a hole in the stump was full of chips of light rotten wood. There wasn’t much colour anywhere, apart from a young Beech sapling retaining its bronze leaves, and a Hazel still bearing green ones.

Down by the Eastham Ferry hotel we watched a small oil tanker coming out of Stanlow oil terminal. It was a Danish ship, the M/T Ternvag, on the way to Amsterdam.

There were Cormorants perched on a wooden mooring.

We lunched inside the Ranger Station and watched the birds coming to the feeders.  There were at least two Nuthatches, numerous Great Tits and Blue Tits, a Coal Tit, Chaffinches, Robin, Blackbird and a special treat – a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Coal Tit and Nuthatch

Blue Tit and Great Tit

Chaffinch and GSW

There were also at least five Grey Squirrels on the ground. When we met the MNA later, they said they had also seen a small group of Wood Mice poking about in one corner.

The Rangers have a three-panel leaf display in the education area, presumably showing trees that can be found in the area. One of the other panels shows a Tulip Tree, which seems unusual for a semi-natural woodland, and this panel shows more uncommon trees – Aspen, Giant Redwood and Western Hemlock. Are they in the wood too?

We spotted the Western Hemlock Tsuga heterophylla almost immediately, on the eastern side of the car park. Their foliage is a bit like Yew, but they have small woody cones.

There was a Wren in the shrubbery and a Song Thrush on the open field. We walked about quarter of a mile northwards on the Wirral circular trail, then back again.

There were leaves of Red Oak underfoot, but we didn’t identify the tree. Some spikes of Daffodils were pushing up, but no Snowdrops. None of us has any in their gardens, either. Are they late this year?  It was misty and drizzling by then. We could hear an aeroplane from Speke climbing over our heads but it was invisible in the low cloud. The only flowers were on the Gorse.

On the way back past the sports field, even the trees on the other side were disappearing in the mist.

Did you have I-Spy books when you were a kid? They are back!  John has the one for birds and plans to use it only for Sunday Group sightings. If we do well and get 1000 points we can send off for a Super Spotter certificate!  I think we might have got 140 points today. (Added later – John says it was 180!)

On the way home I bought I-Spy Trees, and plan to do the same. Not all of the trees we saw today are in the book, but we can count Pedunculate Oak, Sessile Oak, Beech, Hazel and Scots Pine, a total of 50 points. The top trees in the book are the 25-pointers, including Black Locust, Coast Redwood, English Elm (we’d have to go to Brighton for that one!), Foxglove Tree, Gingko, Indian Bean, Medlar and Tulip Tree. We can bag all of those, I think.

While I’m on the subject of trees, did you see this BBC news report on Boxing Day? It’s about the sequencing of the Ash genome and the possibility that British trees are less susceptible to ash dieback disease.

And those Waxwings? There were about 20 of them last Sunday 5th January on a very red-berried tree  on Stanley Road between Lambeth Road and Fountains Road, near the junction of  Easby Road. A Redwing was on it too, and tried to see the Waxwings off, but without much success.

Public transport details: Bus number 1 from Sir Thomas Street towards Chester at 10.23, arriving New Chester Road / Tebay Road at 11.00. (The X8 also stops at that stop and is quicker). Returned on bus 1 from the stop opposite the one we arrived at, at 1.49, arriving Liverpool 2.15.

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First Coach Trip 2017

If you are planning to join us on our first Coach Trip of 2017 on Sun 22 Jan Shropshire Meres where we hope to see plenty of Winter wildfowl and woodland birds.


With Coach Secretary Seema Aggarwhal Tel: 07984 231059 or if no answer with Christine Barton Tel: 07854 776421


9.30 Rocket (Crimpers), 9.45 William Brown Street, 10.00 Conway Park, 10.15 Bromborough

Cost: £20.



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Parkgate, 18th December 2016

Our last meeting of the year was to Parkgate, not really for a walk, but for our Christmas lunch at the carvery at the Old Quay. We mooched slowly along from Mostyn Square to the restaurant, on  a lovely bright and sunny day with the tide coming in. There were great views over to the Flintshire coast and the “ghost ship” the Duke of Lancaster. A Ringtail Marsh Harrier headed seawards and soon a big flock of Lapwings came in.

We had our lunch, but declined the dessert in favour of an ice cream from the famous Nicholls of Parkgate. A Heron flew in and took up station by the main pool, hoping for good pickings at the turn of the tide at about 2pm.

The buses home from Parkgate are only two-hourly (1.30 or 3.30) so we walked up to Neston for the in-between bus at 2.36.

Happy Christmas to all, and here are some jolly Santa toys from Chester Market a few weeks ago.

Public transport details: Bus 487 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.29, arriving Parkgate Mostyn Square at 11.28. Returned from Neston Brook Street on the 487 at 2.36, arriving Liverpool 3.35.


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