The park doesn’t open until 12, so we wandered around Port Sunlight village and had lunch in the sunny rose garden. New Ferry Butterfly Park occupies the site of the former goods yard of New Ferry and Bebington railway station. The poor-quality coal- and lime-rich soil is ideal for growing wildflowers and other butterfly food plants, and was leased from British Rail in 1993. Now it is a thriving wildlife area.
Our first sight was the pond, half-empty because of damage to the pond liner. They had put out a donations bucket. Although the remaining half-pond was edged with old carpet tiles it still supported much of its wildlife, including this Common Darter dragonfly.
Small white and blue butterflies were fluttering about, hard to identify while on the wing, and also a little brown one which might have been some kind of Skipper. The only larger butterfly which sat for its picture was a Speckled Wood.
I think we have seen more butterflies there in previous years, but going by the signs asking us not to walk off the paths, there are butterflies breeding everywhere in the tangled meadows.
The wild flowers were rampant and included Rosebay Wiillowherb, Hemp Agrimony, Wild Carrot, Ragwort, Teasel, Honeysuckle, Toadflax, Scarlet Pimpernel, Hop Trefoil and many more. We were also interested in these Rose Hips, which were an unusual shape and strangely hairy.
One corner had a colourful bed of culinary herbs, including lemon balm and purple sage.
We were also looking at some of the trees with black and red berries, which were probably some of the hard-to-identify natives. Many years ago the ranger said there were definitely no Wayfaring Trees in the park, so we could cross that off our list. But they do have both Alder Buckthorn and Common or Purging Buckthorn. Here are my best guesses, but not with much confidence, I have to say.
Public transport details: Train from Central at 10.15, arriving Port Sunlight at 10.35. Returned on the train from Bebington at 2.55, arriving Central 3.15.