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As the Mersey river flows by, one can see the changing of the seasons in the countryside.
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As the Mersey river flows by, one can see the changing of the seasons in the countryside.


The temperatures are unusually high. I may have underestimated the amount of clothing I needed to wear. The plants and trees give the impression of late winter: dry, crunchy oak leaves, a flattened layer of bracken protecting the ground, and tall, thin willows without leaves near the marshy areas. However, signs of spring are starting to show: hazel catkins are swaying, blackthorn flowers are bright white, and fresh meadow cranesbill is hiding among the pale grasses. There is a changing of seasons happening at the Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve.

This plot of land, spanning 70 acres, is located in south Liverpool, situated between the River Mersey and the Estuary Business Park. It was previously occupied by Liverpool airport, which has since relocated a few miles away and is now known as Liverpool John Lennon airport. The area now serves as a diverse and bountiful mixture of habitats.

The journey to the nature preserve is filled with criticism: signs reading “No Parking” and “Private Land”, as well as a map of double yellow lines, intimidate drivers. In the past, this was a place where common and jack snipes could be found, but that is no longer the case. The reserve is gradually being surrounded by new constructions and parking lots, but birds do not adhere to boundaries. The blank, uninteresting walls of industrial buildings now serve as resting spots for kestrels and peregrine falcons.

A chilly Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve.View image in fullscreen

Strolling along an abandoned airstrip, I can almost hear the loud and powerful engines of an Argonaut, Dakota, or Viscount. Now, the sky is filled with the flight paths of small birds such as dunnocks, blackbirds, magpies, robins, and skylarks. A couple of meadow pipits soar over the grassy runway before stopping to rest in one of the numerous willow trees that line the nearby marsh. The calls of these birds are occasionally interrupted by the deafening noise of planes taking off from the nearby airport.

Although it may seem like a desolate area, the reserve boasts a variety of ecosystems, including grasslands, hedgerows, and meadows that blend into reedbeds, saltmarshes, and tidal mudflats along the southern edge of the Mersey. Even during a peaceful late winter day, there is plenty to uplift one’s mood. A kestrel hovers briefly over the runway before gracefully flying away, as there seems to be no prey available for it. A sudden burst of green in a hedgerow catches my attention. It turns out to be the first greenfinch I’ve seen this year.

I will continue to appreciate the wildlife of this defiant site, as time may alter it like the shifting tides of the Mersey affect the water and sediment.

Source: theguardian.com