On a very hot and sultry morning we met at the Waterloo Sunset café at the south-western end of South Road, Waterloo, for a walk along the beach, by two nature reserves and through the seafront gardens.
There is a newish little nature reserve on the south-east corner of the Marine Lake, made up of a boardwalk through reeds and plantings of native trees. We spotted one Common Blue Damselfly (but there would surely have been many more) and also a male Reed Bunting perching on a high reed. On the unmown grassland as we emerged there were patches of Bird’s Foot Trefoil (the food plant for several of the Blue butterflies), orchids in the long grass, and several butterflies on the wing. First was an unidentified White, then a Meadow Brown sipping from Creeping Thistle and finally what I think was a Large Skipper, the sharp black line on the wing identifying it as a male. That new nature reserve is a success!
Beyond the fence along the south edge of the Marine Lake, are two pools within the dock estate, managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. You need a permit to go in by the dock gates, so lesser mortals just have to peer through the railings. There was rumoured to have been a Roseate Tern there the day before, so we had a look. There were Shelduck, Oystercatchers, about a dozen Curlew, Cormorants, Mute Swans, Canada Geese and rabbits. Some Terns were on the floating platform, but there have been no reports of them nesting this year, and there was no way to see if one was Roseate.
Then we walked north on the path along the beach. The high speed catamaran “Manannan” sped past on its way to the Isle of Man.
The Sea Holly was budding and the Marram Grass had big, soft flower heads, which I don’t remember seeing before.
Anthony Gormley has been here recently with some heavy machinery to rescue some of his Iron Men which had fallen and were lost in the mud and sand. I thought he had made them all level with the beach again, but some near the prom were still buried to their thighs. These kids clearly want to help him out.
There were a prodigious number of Mute Swans on the Boating lake, at least 30. They get free handouts of food from the locals and their kids.
There were the usual Mallards, Canada Geese, a few Tufted Duck and a row of immature Herring Gulls sitting on the barrier.
The local pair of Black Swans, which commute between Waterloo and Southport, were also present. They are native to Australia, and must have escaped from a wildfowl collection.
We looked at three of the four beachfront gardens. The only birds were Sparrows, Magpies and Wood Pigeons. A lot of the shrubs were flowering magnificently, especially the Mock Orange, strewing its white petals all over the paths. There were plenty of Snowbells (Storax japonica), a bright yellow Broom, several Globe Buddleias and this gorgeous Tree Mallow.
This shrub is one that I’ve seen often but never known what it was. It has spiky leaves a bit like Holly, but on Sunday I saw it flowering for the first time. It’s a kind of daisy bush called New Zealand Holly Oleana macrodonta.
And for those of you who are wondering how my crop of Sweet Peas is going this year – excellent! Here are the ones I cut a couple of days ago.