It was a very bright and sunny day, but with a chilly north wind. The last of the leaves of the street trees are coming down. Just outside Wallasey Grove Road station we spotted a Buzzard being mobbed by crows. Then we walked down to the water, and northwards along the sea wall and King’s Parade towards New Brighton. That’s just off the northern edge of the North Wirral Coastal Park, which is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a Ramsar site for wading birds.
The tide was coming in strongly, and the few remaining bits of beach started to disappear. South-westwards were views along to North Wales with a glimpse of Hilbre Island, while north-eastwards were the red cranes at Seaforth docks, leading northwards to Crosby beach.
Then the waves started to crash against the wall, throwing up spray and spume. There are broken cockleshells in abundance here, since both Herring Gulls and Crows have learned the trick of collecting live, closed cockles from the shore, flying in with them and dropping them on the concrete or paving stones to break them open. They have been doing it for years, and the walkway is crunchy underfoot with broken shells. Here’s one that fell on the parapet of the sea wall and broke open, but either the owner couldn’t find it there, or the onshore breeze was too strong for it to perch and retrieve it.
It was “bracing” to say the least, walking into the cold wind. It wasn’t much warmer in Marine Park where we had our lunch. So we popped into the Floral Hall where there was a Christmas Fair and craft sale but it was really just for a warm up. Then to the Marine Lake looking for birds. The whole Marine Lake has recently been turned into the “Wild Shore” water adventure park, and we feared that the waders which usually huddle there on the pontoons would be spooked. But there were a few – about a dozen Redshanks and four or five Turnstones, huddled together against the wind.
There was also one lonely Sanderling. This was the first time any of us had seen a Sanderling on its own, they are always in little groups and clans, pottering busily along the tideline. They seem to always be in motion anyway, but it was hard not to imagine this one was scurrying about because it was anxious and panicky to be alone. In fact it looks as if, like “Tit Willow”, it is about to throw itself, headlong, into the billowy wave!
Public transport details: New Brighton train from Central at 10.20, arriving Wallasey Grove Road at 10.40. Returned on the bus 433 from King’s Parade / Morrisons at 2.10, arriving Liverpool 2.40.
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 www.mnapage.info for details of our programme and how to join us.