Southport, 23rd July 2023

There are several pithy Scottish words for today’s weather, but the one that sums it up is dreich. Damp, drizzly and dismal. It made the ice cream and candy floss shops look particularly forlorn. The boat operators had tied up the swan and flamingo boats, not expecting any takers.

They were trying a new venture, aquacycles, two-seaters, at  £10 for 30 mins.

The southern arm of the Marine Lake had about 50 Mute Swans, all apparently adults or sub-adults, but only two cygnets, each with different parents. A poor breeding year for them. There were very few gulls, mostly juveniles, not the hordes we see in winter, a few Canada Geese and a small group of moulting Mallards. Someone was feeding them.

A Little Egret huddled on the far island in the misty rain.

At the southernmost end were the long-resident Black Swans, which are Australian birds, and which probably escaped from some collection. They have never bred here, as far as I know, and perhaps they aren’t a male and female. A pair of Greylag Geese had a small flotilla of four (or is that six) youngsters, so they have done better.

After lunch in one of the King’s Gardens shelters and a visit to Morrisons, we walked down Rotten Row, a long herbaceous border, now maintained by a group of volunteers. It ought to be at its best now, but some tall flowers like Hollyhocks had been blown over by recent high winds. And the fine drizzle made it too wet for any bees, butterflies, or insects of any kind

The border is dotted with Horse Chestnut trees every few yards. One had a plaque saying it had been planted by some local worthy in 1908. I wonder if that means they are all that age?

Towards the southern end, a path leads into the caravan park. We explored further, and it seems to cross three internal roads by kissing gates, as if it is an old right of way. It came out on the road called Esplanade, opposite a patch of sand dunes called the Queen’s Jubilee Nature Trail which leads back into Southport. The road was part-flooded, so we didn’t attempt the crossing, but it might be worth a look one summer’s day.

Public transport details: Train from Central at 10.23, arriving Southport at 11.10. Returned on bus 47 from Lulworth Road / Weld Road at 1.56, due in Liverpool at 3.08, but we all got off earlier than that.

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