Since the country entered its third national lockdown, local birdwatchers taking their daily exercise in St Helens Borough’s parks and open spaces, and along its many footpaths and tracks, have been meticulously recording myriad species.
Usually these eagle-eyed birdwatchers would also be travelling further afield to document sightings but due to Covid-19 restrictions, local areas have been visited much more frequently, and many more seldom-used routes have been explored from residents’ front doors.
A remarkable 94 species have been seen so far this year, including an adult Whooper Swan (pictured) from Iceland spotted in a flooded field in Windle, at least three Merlin – a species of small falcon – hunting fields in the north of the borough, and also the ever-increasing and exotic-looking, white-plumed Little Egret catching fish in local brooks and streams.
There have been some species which have been less common though and are usually seen in good numbers during winter. One of these species is the Siskin, is a small finch that mainly feeds on Alder tree seeds at this time of year.
Due to ringing these birds in past years, mainly in Taylor Park, it is known that many arrive in the borough from Scotland. So far this year, as far as is known, only two birds have been recorded. This may indicate that seeds in their usual Sitka Spruce breeding areas have been abundant and they need not come as far south as they usually do.
This increased knowledge of the wildlife found in the local area can give an indication of how ecologically and environmentally healthy it is but also help to guide the management and interpretation of the sites within it.
For more information, please telephone St Helens Borough Council’s Ranger Service on 01744 677772.