New Brighton, 6th October 2019

It was forecasted to be a very wet day, so we thought we needed to be near shelter. West Kirby or New Brighton sprang to mind, and the first bus that came was for New Brighton. In the event it was dry and occasionally sunny, so we were overdressed! But it was very windy on that exposed corner of the Wirral.

Our first stop was the pontoons on the Marine Lake, which are always good for shorebirds sitting out the rising tide. Would there be a Purple Sandpiper or two? Sadly not. But there were many little red-legged brown and white Turnstones, taller Redshanks, a Black-headed Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull, and near the back, a couple of Knot. On this picture one is stretching up and preening its breast.

We walked along the north edge of the Marine Lake. Far out on the beach by the lighthouse were lots of gulls and a small group of Oystercatchers. We stopped to look at the small mound of dry beach and rocks near the corner of Fort Perch Rock. It was topped with clumps of Marram grass, which is often the first coloniser of bare sand, and its roots stabilise the young dune.

A couple of other plants were colonising this marginal habitat. I think this is Sea Beet, although the leaves don’t quite match the book. Much in demand by trendy foraging restaurants, apparently.

On the sheltered side under the railing was a crucifer with white flowers. Probably Sea Rocket, whose flowers can be purple, but lilac and white are known variations.

In the open tarmac space in front of Fort Perch Rock, some recent high tides had thrown up lines of drying seaweed, with the egg cases of Whelks caught amongst them, like lumps of bubble wrap. There were also a couple of “mermaid’s purses”. I looked them up on the website of the Shark Trust’s Great Eggcase Hunt.  The smaller brown one was just under 9 cm, so it was too big to belong to the Small Spotted Catshark or Dogfish, whose egg cases are only about 4 cm long. I think it came from a Nursehound, another kind of dogfish or catshark, Scyllorhinus stellaris.

There are about four different square black ones, but the case of the Thornback Ray Raja clavata looks like about the right size and shape.

After lunch in a shelter near the Floral Pavilion, we decided it was too windy to stay, so we headed back to Morrison’s for the bus home.

Public transport details: Bus 432 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.18, arriving King’s Parade / Robson Street (Morrison’s) at 10.43. Returned on the 432 bus outside Morrison’s at 1.25, arriving Liverpool 1.51.

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