Taylor Park St Helens, 20th October 2019

It was a dry and mostly sunny day, but there was a chilly wind. Winter is coming! At the gate of the park was an interesting old Turnpike Road Milestone which, according to the accompanying sign, may date from around 1820. It and another similar one were once used as gateposts on a house in Balker Drive, near Victoria Park. They were recently recognised and rescued by local historians and are now sited in parks as near to their original sites as possible. This one was once on the other side of Prescot Road, outside the park. The wording on the left face is “To Afhton [Ashton]  VI [6] Miles  St Helens I [1] Mile.” On the right face “To Prescot III [3] Miles  Liverpool XI [9] Miles.” Inscribed on the base “Eccleston”.

As we walked up the main park path we were surprised that most trees are still green and almost fully-leafed. The Limes are showing about half yellow, but there is hardly any red. The birds don’t care, of course. Many were flitting about, including Great Tits, Blue Tits, Robins, a Goldcrest, a Treecreeper and a Buzzard overhead. We heard a Nuthatch but couldn’t find it. There were some very fresh Molehills on the grass verges and plenty of Grey Squirrels scampering about. The upper tree branches were interestingly twisty, looking vaguely spooky.

At the lake were the usual Mallards, Moorhens, Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Canada Geese, Mute Swans, and also three Tufted Ducks and a Great Crested Grebe. Also some oddities: they have about three red-wattled Muscovy Ducks and an apparently tame Barnacle Goose which keeps company with a rather suspect Greylag Goose, looking like it has smatterings of Canada Goose and White-fronted Goose in its ancestry.

There was a row of Black-headed Gulls on a railing, and we checked them for rings. None in evidence. It seems Taylor Park also has at least one regular international commuter, like the ones we spotted in Chester last winter. On the noticeboard outside the Visitors’ Centre is a sign asking people to look out for a gull nicknamed “Jeli”. (They initially misread the ring, which really says JBL1.) It commutes to the park each winter from the Oslo area of Norway.

We had our lunch in the sunken Quarry garden, where Coal Tits were coming to breadcrumbs. Then we strolled around the lake. A Dunnock came out on the path. A Wych Elm caught the sun and was hosting several Ladybirds, also a larva. I can see on the photo that they had brown legs, not black, so they were Harlequins sunning themselves before finding a cranny to hibernate in.

A decorative Cherry tree was the only bit of Autumn red that we spotted all day.

We also admired a young Tibetan Cherry, with stripy bark in bands of shiny mahogany brown.

Public transport details: Bus 10 from Queen Square at 10.15, arriving Prescot Road / Regents Road (outside Taylor Park) at 10.54.  Returned from Prescot Road / Toll Bar (opposite the park) on the 10 at 2.10, arriving Liverpool at 2.55

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