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Wirral Walks - Gilroy Nature Park
Welcome to Gilroy Nature Park
It would be easy to stroll by the entrance to Gilroy Nature Park and not even notice it was there, especially if the chorus of quacking ducks and geese had fallen silent.
This pocket-sized park consists of a pond, a meadow and a small woodland, and is home to a surprisingly large variety of wildlife including water voles, common brown bats, weasels and foxes.
Entrance to Gilroy Nature Park
Map of Gilroy Nature Park
Haven for Wildfowl
A Stroll Around Gilroy Nature Park
Tucked away down a public footpath which runs from Gilroy Road in West Kirby, between fields of crops and languorous cows to the golf course close to Hoylake train station, is a gap in the hedge. A simple sign, half-buried behind branches, reads 'Gilroy Nature Park'.
The park is maintained by volunteers, and now this (and the adjacent field which readily floods) is home to teal, mallard, snipe, black-tailed godwits, curlew, fieldfare, wagtails,wheatears, reed warbler, grasshopper warbler, ringed plovers, Canada geese, tufted duck, red shank, whitethroat, reed bunting, shoveller, pintail, pink-footed geese, white-fronted geese, Whooper swans, oyster catcher, sandpipers, coots, pheasant, grey partridge, great spotted woodpecker, tawny owls, herons, robins, wrens, sparrows, goldfinches, bull finches, lapwings, skylarks, swifts, housemartins, hen harriers, kestrals, buzzards, sparrowhawks and the occasional osprey.
Amazingly, this park has no protected status.
Walk beneath the simple wooden entrance sign, and you'll see a large pond surrounded by yellow flag iris and the fluffy spears of bullrushes. An island provides birds with a safe sanctuary from foxes and weasels.
Wildflowers and Grasses
The path leads visitors to a wooden bridge which arches over a narrow stream which then gives a choice between the woodland walk or the meadow.
While many of the trees probably date from the park's initial planting, there are some much older specimens too. The woodland walk circles the pond and comes out back on the public footpath beside the farmer's field, just a little further along from the wooden entrance sign. While it is only a small woodland area, the nearness of the pond and of the open fields attract huge numbers of migrating birds.
The meadow can be extremely muddy and marshy, and during winter and early spring is probably best avoided. The type of plants which thrive here are suited to this damp environment. However its grasses and wildflowers also offer a home to many butterflies, moths and beetles, damselflies and dragonflies, which in turn keep the local bat and bird populations well-fed.
When my mother first walked through this tall, grassy meadow, she was enchanted. She said she had never seen so many wildflowers since she was a child growing up in the heart of rural Cheshire--and at the time of writing this, she is eighty.
That's a remarkable achievent for land which, until 1984, was a rubbish tip.
A Rich and Varied Meadow
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© 2009 Adele Cosgrove-Bray