This morning we were still being thrashed by the squally showers of Storm Brian, but by lunchtime the sun had come out. The only bird to be heard as we set off down the path past the Leverhulme Sports Field to the Eastham Country Park was a Carrion Crow, loudly cawing as we passed. The remains of the old Beech stump, once Wirral’s tallest tree and now being left to rot naturally, were covered in Puff-ball fungi. There were plenty of copper-coloured fallen leaves of Oak and Beech on the path, and masses of fallen acorns underfoot, but the leaves on the trees are still green. The only autumn colour was on this young Red Oak.
From the jetty by Eastham Ferry Hotel we could see white caps on river, with just a few gulls fighting the strong winds. The views down to the Liverpool waterfront are amazing.
We had lunch on the sheltered benches there, and watched the oil products tanker EK-STAR (registered at Arendal in Norway) come out of the Manchester Ship Canal. Three Redshanks followed it out.
Our last wildflower points of the year are from this Old Man’s Beard, also known as Traveller’s Joy. There aren’t any flowers left, of course, just the hairy seed clusters. It’s worth 20 points and takes us to 1130.
They feed birds at the back of the Visitors’ Centre, and there were plenty of seed-eaters coming for the easy pickings – Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Chaffinches, a Robin and this matching pair of Greenfinches.
Above the feeders was this splendid male Great Spotted Woodpecker.
It all went quiet for a while as a Sparrowhawk flew overhead, but then they all popped out again. One of the birds we are missing on our I-Spy list is a Bullfinch, and Eastham is a likely place. We sat and watched for quite a while but, frustratingly, none appeared. So we headed off to the old Pleasure Gardens. They are now very overgrown. Look at this mossy old wall with a tree growing out of it!
We kept going southwards along Ferry Road, and spotted a flock of dozens of Curlews in the field opposite the Golf Club. We came out at Eastham Village, where we went to look at the old Yew tree in the churchyard. A sign attached to the fence around it said it is believed to be about 1600 years old.
It has a hollow and broken trunk, but it seems to be healthy, producing a bumper crop of berries this year.
Public transport details: Bus 1 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.23, arriving New Chester Road opp. Woodyear Road at 11.00. Returned on the 1 from New Chester Road opp. Eastham Village Road at 2.52, arriving Liverpool 3.25.