New Brighton, 7th July 2024

Off for a day at the seaside at New Brighton. The early rain cleared up and the sun shone. The tide was close to the top, so shipping was on the move, and we watched the Isle of Man catamaran “Manannan” heading out.

Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls were flying and calling, small flocks of Starlings perched on high points, Pigeons checked out opportunities for crumbs, and we had a couple of fleeting glimpses of two birds which might have been Rock Pipits. The best birds were a flock of about 50 Turnstones, which were prevented by the high water from foraging on the rocks and shore, so they were mooching on the pontoons on the Marine Lake.  They have returned from their breeding grounds in Canada or Greenland very early: we don’t usually expect them until late August. The chestnut colour of some of their feathers suggests they are still in breeding plumage, but perhaps these are the ones whose nests have failed.

Not many plants about. On the edge of the promenade were a few clumps of White Clover and Ragwort, while on the rocks by the lighthouse, which never get wet, was a small patch of dune specialists Marram Grass, Sea Holly and Sea Beet.

Sea Holly
Sea Beet

We did a bit of beachcombing on the remaining bit of sand under the lighthouse. All the patches of seaweed seemed to be Bladder Wrack, mixed up with black gull feathers, whelk egg cases and  Cockleshells.

There was one oval shell, about 5 cm (2 inches) across, which I hoped was a Piddock, but it was too even on each side to be that, so it was possibly a Carpet Shell. There was only one “Mermaid’s purse”, the empty egg-case of a Skate or Ray.

Carpet shell?
“Mermaid’s purse”

We lunched in one of the shelters on the prom, noticing the cheerfully-decorated skip belonging to the local volunteer litter-pickers, who call themselves the New Brighteners. Clever name!

People with kids were catching crabs off the wall of the Marine Lake. “Crabbing” is such an established pastime here that the local shops sell crabbing kits – a bucket, a line, a dipping net and little fabric bags like teabags for putting the bait in. Most people use bacon, although I’m not sure if the same shops sell that!  Most crabbers were successful, nearly all having one or two Shore Crabs in their buckets.

Shore crab
Crabbing kit
Lines out over the railings

Public transport details:  Train from Central at 10.20, then a rail replacement bus from Birkenhead North at 10.40, arriving New Brighton at 11.00. Returned on bus 432 from King’s Parade / Morrison’s at 1.55, arriving Liverpool 2.30.

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