Festival Gardens, 11th February 2015

04 Festival pagoda
This was one of the MNA’s short walks, from 11am to 1pm, intended to attract newer members, and those that haven’t been out for a while. Eight people turned up, four regulars and four who we don’t see very often, so the “short-walk” plan succeeded yet again.

It was a mild and overcast day, and the park was very quiet. The lake had Moorhens, Coots and Mallards, and we spotted Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Blackbird, Magpie and some Robins in the trees and shrubberies. Apart from the birds practising their songs, the first signs of spring were the Hazel, Alder and Birch catkins. The male Hazel catkins are obvious, but the female flowers are unobtrusive structures, with red protruding stigmas, and need searching for. This one is against the palm of a leather glove, and only about a centimeter (half an inch) long.

04 Festival hazel catkins

04 Festival hazel female

On the way down to the riverside walk we noted Gorse in flower, and Carrion Crows, Wood Pigeons and Feral Pigeons. The  tide was very low, and a mid-river sandbank had Lesser Black-backed gulls and Black-headed gulls. One of the BHGs was feeding, flitting and diving over the water like a Tern.

We returned to the Festival Gardens and climbed the steps to the woodland walk. The Bluebell and Daffodil shoots were coming up, and a young oak had a great collection of Marble Galls still clinging on.

04 Festival marble galls

An old stump was mossy, and sprouted small bracket fungi all around. By the side of the path was this clump of orange toadstools, which I have since looked up on this website, which has a calendar, so it narrows them down a bit.

04 Festival velvet shank

My guess is that it was a Velvet Shank, Flammulina velutipes, from the colour, and because it is said to fruit from September to March  There was no ring on the stem, which is correct. The stem or shank is supposed to be velvety, (but I didn’t feel it) and is also supposed to be dark in colour. The one I turned on its side had a light stem, but perhaps it was still too young.

A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were moving about overhead in the tall bare trees, and Christine B alerted us all to a Goldcrest busily pecking and flitting about. There was also a Siskin high up in an Alder tree and a Great Tit singing boldly right over the path.

By the duck pond, the bulrush seed heads were ragged and fluffy, interestingly placed against a bank of golden Dogwood and some tall bare trees.

04 Festival bulrush

There were Primroses in the flower beds and Snowdrops in Priory Wood.

04 Festival primroses

04 Festival snowdrops

Public transport details: 82A bus from Liverpool ONE, arriving Festival Gardens (Riverside Drive opposite Beech Gardens) just before 11am. I returned by walking through Priory Wood to St Michael’s Merseyrail Station, but others took the 82A bus outside back into Liverpool.

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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