This was an MNA midweek short walk, starting at the café at the south end of the lake at 11.00. There were 15 of us, including some newer members, although some had to leave early. It was a bright, brilliantly sunny day, and even the chilly northern breeze didn’t penetrate far into the park.
Birds on the lake included Mallard, Coot, Canada Geese, Black-headed Gulls (a few with fully-“black” heads), immature Herring Gulls, Mute Swans, a few Moorhen, one or two Little Grebes, a Tufted Duck and the single male Gadwall, who has been there since early November.
Around the park we saw Blackbirds, Goldfinch, a Greenfinch, a Ring-necked Parakeet, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker near the Fairy Glen, after we heard it drumming. The Kingfishers are said to be back, but although we looked, we saw no flashes of blue. There were also reports of even more exciting birds. Jenny had heard that a Water Rail had been seen recently somewhere in the park, and somone else had heard that one Monk Parakeet had joined the Ring-necks. It is similar, with green plumage, red beak and a long tail, but it has no neck ring and it has a barred front. We didn’t see it, but keep a lookout!
A few trees strut their stuff at this time of year and become easily recognisable. The Hazel has catkins, as do the Common and Italian Alders.
The male Yew trees have their tiny clusters of poilen sacs, and shed clouds of pollen when shaken. There is a Winter-flowering Cherry by the Gothic Fountain. The Persian Ironwood on the bank by the Fairy Glen had its flowers just going over.
The biggest tree surprise was a very early Norway Maple, which had burst into flower in a south-facing corner by the path junction below the Palm House.
If you are interested in the wildlife of the north-west of England and would like to join the walks and coach trips run by the Merseyside Naturalists’ Association, see the main MNA website for details of our programme and how to join us.