Sefton Park is lovely in the autumn. It has been awarded the Green Flag quality standard again for the 2022/23 season, the trees are colouring up (if not quite to New England standards), and the sun was shining. What’s not to love. The usual crowds of birds were on the mooch for handouts at the south end of the lake. Hundreds of Black-headed Gulls, several juvenile Herring Gulls and one Common Gull; Coots, Moorhens and Mallards; the ubiquitous Feral Pigeons and a few Canada Geese. Near the island were a few male Tufted Duck, two Mute Swans and just one Little Grebe. The Model Boat Club were putting their vessels though their paces.
Floating by the launch step was this model duck. We thought about suggesting it was a Green-headed Wigeon (I just made up that name, there’s no such thing) to set the twitchers a-flutter, but it doesn’t quite look like a living bird.
Further along was a single male Gadwall, this one a genuine semi-rarity, and one we’ve never seen here before. It looked a bit lost. Had it come from the currently-closed WWT Martin Mere?
The avenue of old Cherry trees was looking wonderful.
The champion Black Walnut tree opposite the bandstand was bare of leaves, but seems to have fruited very well this year. There were very many round green fruits on the ground and on the path beneath it. We looked at two very pale trees nearby, across the field. They had an airy open shape and yellow pointy leaves which were almost white underneath. A few of the fallen ones had turned red. I have seen these leaves often but not identified them, so I looked it up at home. I think it’s Silver Maple Acer saccharinum.
There is usually some sort of demo or political action near the Eros statue, and today it was the anti-vaxxers, trying to convince the passers-by that we are all being lied to.
Inside the Oasis café was an exhibition of bird photographs. We had expected there to be more than eight of them, but that’s all there were on show. There are over 70 of them apparently, and they will be changed every month. Each had a little slogan attached. For instance, the Mandarin Duck said “Show your true colours”, and they had the feel of new-agey motivational posters. The pictures are by Tana Corps “swan whisperer, photographer, film maker, writer and poet” and the blurb goes on to say Tana “senses the mood and personality of individual birds … it’s as if the birds have come to have their photo taken, not the other way around.” You’d think nobody had ever photographed a bird before!
Over the big field, one of the old sandstone houses with tall chimneys looked a bit like a fairy-tale castle, surrounded by misty autumnal trees. You wouldn’t guess it was only about three miles from the city centre.
Along the path past the old aviary we looked for any sign of the Kingfishers, which lived here not long ago, but there was no sign, just Magpies, Crows and Blackbirds. Two of the trees had small labels attached, just typed on small white cards, laminated and stuck on with map pin. They were numbered 17 and 18, but we didn’t see any more of them. They weren’t robust, and could easily have been taken or vandalised. One labelled tree was a Hornbeam and the other was a Dawn Redwood. Dawn Redwoods are conifers which turn colour and lose their leaves in the autumn, and the ones in the park had just turned to rusty red and were looking gorgeous.
We had been hearing Parakeets squawking all day, but didn’t se them. Along the path near the Fairy Glen we saw a Treecreeper and heard a Nuthatch. In the quiet glade around the south side of the Palm House, where bird feeders have been put up, we waited quietly, but no birds came. So we headed back, but went around the south end of the lake to the side where we started. I had seen a tree on the bank earlier in the day and wondered if it had been a young Swamp Cypress. They are another deciduous conifer (the only other is Larch) and I wanted to compare its leaves with those of the Dawn Redwood. Yes, I think it is a Swamp Cypress, as the leaves were all arranged “opposite”, whereas the Dawn Redwood is “alternate”, and this is one of the ways of telling them apart. When you have a chance to directly compare them, you can see that the tree shapes are quite different, and also that the SC’s colour change is later, and subtly beautiful. I love Swamp Cypresses.
Public transport details: Bus 82 from Elliot Street at 10.02, arriving Aigburth Road opp Ashbourne Road at 10.19. Returned on 82 from Aigburth Road / Jericho Lane at 1.45, arriving city centre at 2.15.