Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Damsels, Skimmers, and Emperors!

Sefton Park Main Lake
Common Buzzard - Greenbank Park

During this amazingly warm period (we have been waiting five years for it!) certain species can be easy to find, especially Dragonflies, in Sefton Park I have recently viewed at least 250 Common Blue Damselflies on the main lake, which in-turn have attracted the magnificent Emperor Dragonflies that prey upon the Damsels; at least four males and two females can be seen patrolling the main lake plus a pair on the the first pond. By far the best record is that of Black-Tailed Skimmers; with three males holding territory along the South-East shoreline of the main lake, at least two females were at the site during the weekend, so breeding may well  be confirmed this year. This species is a relatively new species in the region, over the last few years they have spread North and can now be found on the Sefton Coast and South-Lancs, and with the ecological improvements to Liverpool's Parks resulting in increasing biodiversity this species looks like it may become a regular now.
Black-Tailed Skimmer - Sefton Park
Great Crested Grebe family - Sefton Park
Apart from Dragonflies the Great Crested Grebes seem to have been through a bit of turmoil, only the female bird remains from the breeding pair and only two chicks remain, however the chicks are growing fast and hopefully should be to large for Gull attacks soon. The showy Great Crested Grebe that allows very close approach is still present and usually can be found fishing close to the shore. I couldn't find a Little Grebe nest but I would love to be proved wrong! If anyone knows what happened to the male Great Crested Grebe and the other chick please let me know, as well as the Mute Swan story too, as the family party is now back up to four juveniles; did two birds get taken into care by the RSPCA and then reintroduced? Two Herons have been fishing around the Band Stand and two have been in Greenbank Park too, Gulls numbers are starting to build up again (see photos on the right), with juvenile Black Headed Gulls and Common Gulls starting to return for the Autumn (bit of irony in this weather!), when the Common Gulls start returning Autumn migration is just around the corner!

In Greenbank Park a Common Buzzard has been making regular appearances during the mornings especially over the North-end of the park and Gorsedale Road; regularly circling at only treetop height before being harassed by Crows and Gulls and driven away. The Ring-Necked Parakeets are regular as is a huge Red-EaredTerrapin that suns itself on the islands.
Grey Heron - Sefton Park

Great Crested Grebe - Sefton Park


Neil M said...

had a quick look in at the ponds over the road from speke retail park this morning, sat watching dragonflies for a while. other than hundreds of damsels there were common darter, emperors, and what i think were broad bodied chasers.

during an hour round sefton park i didn't get much chance to see what bird life was around (I had my 1 year old in his pushchair so couldn't go off-road!) but did come across some unusual sightings such as a wood pigeon that had been predated by something that had stripped the flesh from the neck and head only, left the rest of the carcass (surely not a sparrowhawk kill but i wonder what did it), some large fungi under some of the bigger older oaks (maybe the strange weather over the last few months has brought them out early) and i found and harvested a lovely big clump of oyster mushrooms which i'm going to have for breakfast. lots more dragonflies including the impressive emperors terrorising all the other insects around the lakes and found a large patch of nettles covered with the unmistakable black 'spikey' caterpillars of the peacock butterfly which is one of favourites. i too am confused by the reappearance of 2 of the cygnets but i did notice that none of the 4 youngsters is ringed, i would have thought that the RSPCA might have taken the chance to have it done if they'd been involved? incidentally the male of the pair is ringed but the female isn't.
also found a couple of patches of what i'm pretty sure are wild raspberries, i'll be keeping an eye on them for fruit in the next few weeks!

Danny Foy said...

Thanks for the post Neil, I will have to have a look for some of the larger fungi you mentioned, I have had Panther Cap in Greenbank during the summer before now. I have to agree that the RSPCA would have rung the birds, so I have no idea what's happened! I like the pools in Speke you checked out for Dragonflies they always have decent amounts of them on, in the past I have had Ruddy Darter on them. Broad bodied is a good find I will have to try and have a look there myself.

Neil M said...

Hi Danny, interesting you mention the Panther Cap, whilst out in sefton park yesterday I had a proper mushroom forage, the park is full of them at the moment. There's a cracking beefsteak fungus at the bottom of a trunk just at the 'cafe' end of the smaller lake above the main lake but it's under the big oaks and beeches that I've found the most interesting specimens. There are stacks of a red species I've yet to 100% identify under the bigger oaks that may be The Sickener (won't be trying that one!) but i'm still working on the ID. But I've also found lots of large, pretty rotten boletes of some sort around the place, difficult to tell exactly what sort as all the examples so far have looked to be a few weeks old and are rotting down already but I'd guess that they're Bay Bolete which is an edible species. I'll be looking out for Ceps and other bolete types from now on. Amongst the others found recently are charcoal burner (edible), possible chicken of the woods (too small to be sure at the moment), puffball and earthstars, several bracket fungus varieties and the aforementioned Panther Caps. they were growing in their hundreds up at the aigburth vale end of the park not far in from the main road, under the large beeches at that end. As I'm pretty new to mushrooming i took some detailed photos rather than collecting potentially very poisonous species and have checked them at home, I now think I may be wrong and that they may well be Blushers, in which case they're edible. But having no wish to end my fledgling mycology interest too early i think i'll not take the risk just yet on these ones!
haven't seen that much else of interest in the park recently, the G.C grebe youngsters seem to be doing well, coot numbers are building (or maybe it's just all the new youngsters, they seem to have done really well this year), nice to see an increase in moorhen numbers this year too. haven't seen much in the way of raptors recently but every time i've been to my allotment down near St Michaels station recently a large female sparrowhawk drifts over, heading towards the gardens and woods down towards the Brittania pub. wonder if she's been nesting down there?

Danny Foy said...

Hi Neil
I have never seen Earthstars in this area. Any area in particular?
Thanks for the post.



Anonymous said...

Hi Danny

Recently got back from a walk in both Greenbank and Sefton parks. In Greenbank there was a grey heron, 3 tufted ducks, 3 mute swan, a hybrid goose, a nuthach, 15 goldfinches, 3 coal tit and a song thrush.

In sefton, there was a second Grey Heron near the dell area(I was suprised by this as I had never seen one in this part of the park before) 9 mute swans ( 3 more have joined the resident family) 10 little grebes, a strange hybrid duck that looked like a cross between a mallard and a pekin duck, as well as a jay,another nuthatch, a bullfinch, several more goldfinches, long tailed tits, great tits, 2 chaffinches, a grey wagtail, a goldcrest, and best of all, 2 ring necked parakeets behind the palm house.