Rimrose Valley, 25th August 2019

On a very hot, sunny and cloudless day – shirt sleeves and sun hats – we went to Rimrose Valley Country Park to see their wildflower meadow.

The valley of the old Rimrose Brook is the border between Crosby and Litherland, on the west side of the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and it was used as a council tip until 1978. In 1993 they covered it with soil and put a north-south path down the centre. It has become very popular as a walking, cycling and dog-walking area. Then, in 2016, Highways England proposed to run a new road down the middle to relieve congestion on the A5036 Dunnings Bridge Road, which takes international lorries to Seaforth docks. Sefton Council counter-proposed building a tunnel and a dispute has been rumbling along for several years, most recently in the High Court. Meanwhile local residents have formed a Friends group and are campaigning hard to save the park.

Looking southwards to the Port of Liverpool cranes

The wildflower meadow in the centre of the old running track is their latest scheme to make the area indispensable. It was planted quite late this year, and so it has been slow to come into flower, but in the last week or two it has blossomed magnificently. It maybe the best we have ever seen. The mix was the usual Poppy (red), Cornflower (blue), Corn Cockle (purple), Corn Marigold (yellow) and the white one which I have seen called Corn Chamomile, but might just be Ox-eye Daisy. The understorey is mostly Ribwort Plantain.

It was very popular with bees, and there were a few Painted Lady and Large White butterflies taking advantage of this late bounty of nectar. Somebody had planted a few Sunflowers in the middle, and there are beaten tracks out to them, where people have been posing for Instagram!

As we headed northwards we met several people who had come to see it and were asking “Is it this way?”

The rest of the wild grassland wasn’t as spectacular, of course, but was well-supplied with Ragwort and Yarrow. There was a big thistle patch going to seed, which we inspected for the caterpillars of the next brood of Painted Ladies, but we couldn’t see any. Other occasional flowers were Birds Foot Trefoil, Great Willowherb, Red Clover, White Dead-nettle, Red Bartsia, St John’s Wort, Wild Carrot and Mugwort. After lunch we made for the canal towpath and on the way found an example of the latest “finding things” game for children – a book. Painted rocks must now be passé. This book was tucked under a bush, carefully encased in a plastic bag, and came with a note urging the child to read it and pass it on, signed by the Rimrose Valley Fairies!

There were lots of Dragonflies around the canal, all moving too fast for definite identification. We are supposing most of them were Common Hawkers or Brown Hawkers, but there were definitely two of them, one brown and one blue, who seemed to be following or chasing one another. That  suggests they were a male and female Common Hawker. There was also a Banded Demoiselle Damselfly.

There weren’t many birds on the canal, and no Mallards at all. They must all be skulking somewhere, moulting. There were only occasional Coots, but lots of Moorhens, some with quite small chicks, of the second or even third broods.

We looked at a couple of plants on the edge of the towpath that we didn’t want to approach too closely in case the canal banks were undermined. They were possibly Gipsywort and Marsh Woundwort. The surface of the canal was half-covered in the yellow Fringed Water Lily.

Autumn fruits are coming along in great abundance. We admired Hawthorn berries, Rose Hips, Elder and Rowan, and chatted to a lady out gathering blackberries.

Hawthorn berries
Rowan berries

Near the Cookson’s Bridge pub, in the shrubbery on the far side, was a colony of twittering House Sparrows. Then, unusually for us, we sat in the cool pub and refreshed ourselves with shandy and cider. 

Public transport details: 47 bus from Queen Square at 10.15, arriving Crosby Road North / Plaza Cinema at 10.40. Returned on 55 at 2.25 from Gorsey Lane / Gorsey Avenue.

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