Shorefields and Port Sunlight River Park, 6th August 2023

The terminus of the bus to New Ferry is on the edge of an open field facing a view over the river from some of the Mersey’s last natural shoreline. The tide was well out and the mud flats were dotted with gulls and a few Redshank on the shoreline. It was too early for Curlews, but we see them here in winter. On the edge of a grassy island was a single Little Egret.

We walked south through the woods and onto the paths around Port Sunlight River Park. There were lots of white butterflies, one probable Holly Blue and this single Comma on a Buddleia bush, perched high up.

The wildflowers were all out along the path edges: Ragwort, Yarrow, Wild Carrot, the yellow Hawkbit or Hawkweed, Mugwort, Fennel, Common Knapweed, Tansy, Teasel, Great Willowherb, Rosebay Willowherb, Red Campion, St John’s Wort, Musk Mallow, Viper’s Bugloss, Tufted Vetch, Fleabane, Bird’s foot Trefoil, Hop Trefoil, red and white Clover and our first Michaelmas Daisies of the year.

Wild carrot seed head forming
St John’s Wort
Michaelmas daisies

Autumn is coming on apace. The Blackberries are ripening. I ate one, and it was sweet but bland. Hawthorn berries and Rose hips were reddening and some Elder berries were fully ripe.

The small lake had just a family of Coots, but a Blackbird and a Dunnock flew in and out of the shrubbery and a Swallow cruised along the path. A Buzzard was soaring overhead. The café is closed at weekends, but around the back we spotted a pair of artificial nest cups for House Martins. They look used, but perhaps not this year.

We climbed to the top of the hill, where it is surprisingly wet underfoot. A sign says they have ground-nesting birds up there in the damp rough grassland. It’s also a great perspective on the city centre.

We returned the way we came. An oak tree on the edge of Shorefields cliffs bore knopper galls, artichoke galls and also marble galls, all on the same tree. The oak wasps have done well this year, but on this tree, at least, a few acorns have survived.

A cluster of three marble galls (and an artichoke gall lower down)

Public transport details: Bus 464 from Sir Thomas Street at 10.14, arriving Shorefields Nature Park / Pollitt Square at 10.50. Returned on 464 from Shorefields / Pollitt Square at 2.02, arriving Liverpool 2.35.

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