Stanley Park, 3rd March 2024

We are holding off visiting the main parks until the spring blossom is out, but we came to Stanley Park for the daffodils. In 1991 the cancer charity Marie Curie planted half a million daffodil bulbs as a Field of Hope.

Although they aren’t quite at their peak yet, John said we’d better see them today because by Mother’s Day (next week) they will all be gone. Of course, the flowers aren’t supposed to be picked by the public, but while we were there we saw a little girl of about 7 clutching three or four blooms, following her Dad, who wasn’t bothered. We also watched a pair of young Mums on the far side, helping themselves to large bunches.

The lake was flooded with bright and dazzling sunshine. Scattered birds included Mallards, Coots, Moorhens, Canada Geese and a Mute Swan. A few Black-headed Gulls were lingering, one with a fully black head. A Great Crested Grebe idled about. They do breed here, and this one behaved like a male on the alert, guarding a nest.

Great Crested Grebe
Black-headed Gulls

The Pigeons were courting and some little birds were flitting about – Great and Long-tailed Tits, in the trees, Dunnocks and Blackbirds on the ground. A few Grey Squirrels crossed the paths, and when we put food on some of the bridge pillars it attracted parties of Magpies and Crows.

Some of the ornamental shrubs were flowering, like Forsythia and Quince. One Rhododendron bore a couple of flowers.  The orange flowers of Berberis darwinii were opening.

One blooming Mahonia bush was attracting nectar gatherers including a couple of honeybees and this Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

The Cherry Plums are still flowering, although they are going over. The Alder has all its catkins out, punctuated by the black spots of last year’s cones. One “weeping” tree wasn’t a Willow, its thin pointy buds identified it as a Weeping Beech. You don’t see many of those.

Leaf buds of a Weeping Beech
Cherry Plum
Alder catkins

We walked towards the Liverpool football stadium on the south side of the park along an avenue of trees planted as a memorial to those who died at Hillsborough. There only seem to be about 40 of them, not 96 or 97, but there are said to be more around the edge of the field. They were planted in 2016, so are less than 10 years old. They were hard to identify, possibly cherries, so we will have to look at them again when they are in leaf or flower.

Nearer the stadium were parties of schoolboys being shepherded towards the “guided tours” entrance. The area around the Hillsborough Memorial is now called Paisley Square, and there are some small flowerbeds. A signboard urges the readers to plant pollinator-friendly plants in their gardens and lists the ones they plan to use in the adjacent beds. They are mostly garden-type plants, not wild ones, and the only ones in bloom were these, which look like pink Cowslips.

Public transport details: Bus 19 from Queen Square at 10.10, arriving Walton Lane / Bullen’s Road (by Everton FC) at 10.27. Returned on 19 bus from Walton Lane / Priory Road at 2pm, arriving city centre 2.20.

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