It turned out to be a lovely mild, sunny day, feeling like spring. Eastham Woods are mostly Beech and Sweet Chestnut, and the thick carpet of spiky husks showed that the Sweet Chestnuts had had an excellent year in 2019. On the ground were two Robins and a Blackbird, and higher up was something chucking, whistling and tweeting in an ivy-covered tree. It was a Song Thrush, perhaps looking for a sheltered nest hole. Nowadays the woods aren’t kept too tidy, and much of the fallen branches are left to rot, producing interesting crops of fungi.
Many people were out walking their dogs, including the local Pug club. We saw 14 of them in one group and more later on. One young Mum was scattering nuts and attracting wildlife for her toddler. A Jay came down for them, and all the nearby Grey Squirrels homed in on the free food.
The bird feeders at the back of the Visitors’ Centre didn’t have any Woodpeckers or Nuthatches today, just Blue Tits, Great Tits and the occasional Coal Tit, with a Dunnock on the ground and a Chaffinch in the shrubbery. We crossed the car park to the picnic tables, noting the evergreen Western Hemlock Tsuga heterophylla with its little woody cones.
I hoped to see lots of Hazel catkins today, but the young saplings in the woods didn’t have any. Instead they had held onto their green leaves through the winter. But a big old tree in a hedge was putting on a show for us.
The railings overlooking the river were entwined with the fluffy seed heads of Old Man’s Beard Clematis vitalba, also known as Traveller’s Joy.
Down on the little beach a couple of Redshanks were probing the muddy sand.
Opposite the Eastham Ferry Hotel there are interesting views one way to Liverpool City Centre, Stanlow oil refinery the other and right opposite is Liverpool John Lennon Airport. It’s a great spot for aeroplane fanciers, and one man had a walkie-talkie which seemed to be picking up the pilot’s conversations with the control tower. He told us the plane just leaving was going to Geneva, while the one coming in to land was from the Isle of Man. The railings have recently sprouted some engraved padlocks – “love locks” – although some were combination locks, which we thought was cheating! Lovers are supposed to fix the padlock and throw away the key, symbolising that their love is eternal. On the way back to the bus, we noticed a splash of pale green next to the path and discovered two flimsy young Hawthorn bushes which had already put out their new leaves. That’s very early.
Public transport details: Bus X1 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.22, arriving New Chester Road / opp Woodyear Road at 10.45. Returned on the no. 1 bus from New Chester Road / Allport Road at 2.10, arriving Liverpool City Centre at 2.45.