Rimrose Valley Country Park, 6th September 2020

There is a distinct touch of autumn in the air, and the Michaelmas Daisies are blooming everywhere. The feast of St Michael isn’t until 29th September, so the flowers are early. I didn’t go for a nature walk last weekend, which was a bank holiday when everywhere was likely to have been crowded. This week I opted for Rimrose Valley Country Park, near home, so very easy to get to. Until 1978 it was a council tip, but from 1993 it was grassed and planted and has become a much-loved local amenity.

In 2013 the council announced a proposal for a new road to the docks, running right down the middle. That threat has galvanised the local community to form a Friends group and campaign for its preservation. Last year they planted a huge wildflower meadow within the old running track.  It isn’t looking too bad, one year on. There are still plenty of Poppies, Cornflowers, scented Corn Chamomile, and Corn Marigolds. One Small White butterfly was flitting about. The big cranes at the docks are visible in the background.

Other plants by the wayside included Ragwort, Bindweed, White Dead-nettle, a late blooming of Bramble, Red clover, Yarrow, Mugwort, Teasel, Burdock with its spiky seeds and Great Willowherb. In the hedgerows the berries are all ripening – Rose hips, Guelder Rose, Dogwood, Rowan and Hawthorn. The Elderberries are just on the turn.

Guelder rose berries
Dogwood berries
Rowan berries
Hawthorn berries
Unripe elder berries

The only birds I saw in the park were Wood Pigeons, Magpies and House Sparrows. On the canal there were plenty of Mallards, just getting over their moult. A dozen or so Herring Gulls sat on the apex of the roof of the three-storey flats opposite, calling and screaming at something that had bothered them. Was it me or was it the cyclist that swept past on the towpath? A group of five or six adult Coots were being very aggressive to each other, so they are about two seasons ahead of themselves.  Other Coots still had small chicks. I noticed one adult with two half grown chicks, one smaller than the other, so maybe it was a runt, or maybe it didn’t belong. The adult seemed to be driving it off, and the little one was calling piteously. Then it came back, all was quiet for less than a minute, then the parent started pecking at it again and saw it off. It’s a hard life (or death) being a baby Coot.

A fisherman was meditating quietly on the bank, hoping for Roach or even Carp.

The only leaves turning colour for the autumn were on the branch tips of Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea). The book calls the colour crimson, but it looks like a smoky purple to me.

In a sunny nettle patch several ladybirds were basking. I think they were all the invasive Harlequin ladybirds. One was black with orange spots, one was orange with small black spots and the third was orange with big black spots. Nearby a spider appeared to be building a web.

A Speckled Wood butterfly was on a ripe Blackberry which had been missed by the pickers. It looked like it was feeding on a squashed drupelet (the name of the individual berries).

At the Red Lion bridge there is a Canal and Waterways depot, with guest moorings. I admired the flowers on the roof of this canal boat with the unusual name of Zephyranthes. That’s the Latin name for the Lily genus, so I wonder if the owner was a lady called Lily?

A short intense rain shower sent me into the Tesco supermarket, then I ate my lunch overlooking the canal, dropped into Lidl Seaforth then took the bus just a few stops home.

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