It was a bright sunny autumn day, but with a bitter north wind.
The lake had the expected Canada Geese, Mallards, Black-headed gulls, a few Herring gulls, Coots, Moorhens, a pair of Mute Swans and, to our surprise, a single Little Grebe. We have never seen one here before, so they appear to be increasing in Liverpool.
On the path around the lake we found this bivalve shell, quite a big one. There are several common species of freshwater mussel which grow to that size and live in lakes and ponds. I think it was probably the Duck Mussel Anodonta anatina, but it might have been the Swan Mussel Anodonta cygnea. Both are long-lived, sometimes to over 100 years.
There is a plantation of new young native trees west of lake, extending the existing woody margins: Oak, Rowan, Hazel, Birch, Spindle, Field Maple and Cherry. Some of the older trees are being felled, and nowadays they leave the cut trunks to rot down. We weren’t on the look-out for any champion trees today, assuming there weren’t any, but I should have checked. There is just one in the park, a Broad-leaved Whitebeam Sorbus latifolia, also known as the Service Tree of Fontainbleau. It’s the height county champion of Lancashire at 16 m, last measured 2004. It’s said to be “S, one of several in N boundary strip by houses”. If that’s the south side of Gardener’s Drive, we probably walked right past it!
After lunch we walked along the woodland strip between the eastern edge of the park and the railway line. It is supposed to be a nature area, and there are plenty of Hawthorn and Hazel along the path, but among the trees there were no birds, just lots of litter and empty beer cans. The big field had lots of remains of fireworks, big boxes that had held 30 or 36 tubes of things with names like Crack of Doom. After setting them off, the revellers had just dumped them. Yet more festive dumping was in evidence, with little heaps of pumpkin skins scattered amongst the trees. It seems to be an urban myth that the birds and squirrels will like them, but we saw no wildlife activity near them at all, not even the unfussy Pigeons or Magpies.
The diagonal path across the big field has some newish young ornamental trees lining it. We noticed that one with orangey-grey bark had been marked on its support post with the watering dates in summer 2020. Was that a special tree or had the man with the council bowser watered them all and noted it once? Probably. There were no leaves left to identify the tree, but it might have been a Tibetan Cherry, or some kind of ornamental birch.
The park redeemed itself as we were leaving, with a pair of Jays near the rose garden, rootling in the leaf litter, and nowhere near any of the old pumpkins!
Public transport details: Bus 13 from Queen Square at 10.25, arriving West Derby Road / Dorset Road at 10.40. Returned on bus 12 from West Derby Road / New Road at 1.40, arriving Queen Square at 1.55.