Carr Mill Dam, 21st February 2016

07 Carr Mill view

As usual at this time of year, it was muddy and squelchy underfoot but there was always a way around the mini-quagmires.  There were a few Snowdrops out, some wind-blow Daffodils struggling to bloom and the leaves of Wild Garlic were showing through. One very sluggish Bee was blundering about, perhaps just woken up by the surprisingly mild day. On the lake were Coots, Moorhens, Black-headed Gulls and many Canada Geese, parallel-swimming and honking. Are they males challenging each other or is this courtship behaviour?  The Great Crested Grebes were very far out, but we hoped to see some of them courting too, in the secluded bays.

07 Carr Mill Canada geese

A tree had been very neatly cut down, showing the very dense wood and tightly-packed rings. It was at least 100 years old, the annual rings showing very clearly when magnified through the wrong end of binoculars.

07 Carr Mill cut log

We lunched on the old railway bridge. A Chaffinch was pecking at some seed left out on the parapet, a Buzzard flew over and there was a Blue Tit in the shrubs. A juvenile Grey Wagtail perched briefly on a post then flew off into the bushes. We looked for a Kingfisher, because we often see one here, skimming low over the water, but had no luck. We met a couple later who said they HAD seen one there, probably just after we left. On the far side of the bay beyond the bridge were two Herons, one on the bank and one hunched up in a tree.

07 Carr Mill herons

A lady had preceded us on our circuit, putting out bird seed here and there. In the swampy area where there is a bridge over the Goyt, Long-tailed Tits were coming to seed, as well as Great Tits and a Coal Tit. We heard a Nuthatch but it didn’t show itself. Below the bridge was a clump of Lesser Celandine.

07 Carr Mill celandine

In the fields beyond, the Moles had been busy, leaving long trails of molehills. In a sheltered spot behind the Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club the first, very early Hawthorn leaves were out.

07 Carr Mill hawthorn

We spotted a Treecreeper on a tree on the embankment.

07 Carr Mill treecreeper

A Song Thrush was singing very loudly in the hedges, but we couldn’t find it until it stopped singing and flew away. There was a large carpet of Snowdrops in the front garden of the Powerboat Club.

07 Carr Mill snowdrops

And the Great Crested Grebes? Many adults and juveniles were just mooching about in the middle of the lake, apparently not the slightest bit interested in courting or dancing. Disappointingly, we appear to have come too early. Perhaps the nesting pair we saw in Stanley Park last week were just randy scouse gits!

07 Carr Mill grebes

Public transport details: Bus 10A at 10am from Queen Square, arriving St Helens Bus Station at 11.05. We just made the 352 bus, due out at 11.05, but which came to its stop at 11.08. Arrived Carr Mill Road / East Lancashire Road at 11.19. Returned from the stop opposite on the 352 at 2.21, arriving St Helens Bus Station at 2.35. Since a 10A had just gone out, and the next fast bus (the 10) wasn’t due for another 20 minutes or so, we went for the train at St Helens Central at 1503, arriving Lime Street at 1530.

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