Sunset on the Mersey

I drove out to Pickering’s Pasture this afternoon with the intention of catching the spectacular nightly starling roost on the Runcorn Bridge. It’s a great place for spectacular views down the Mersey, with the Welsh mountains on the skyline. I didn’t stay for the roost – it was too damn cold, and treacherous underfoot with the path a sheet of ice for most of the way (we had rain last night that froze hard later).

However, it was a beautiful afternoon and I got some lovely shots of the sun setting over the river:

Pickering’s Pasture a former land fill site has been reclaimed and an excellent wildlife area created in its place. The wildflower meadows make a colourful sight through the spring and summer justifying a visit just to see them alone and the many butterflies they attract. The reserve has wide views across the River Mersey and offers great opportunities for birdwatching. It is a peaceful place where people can enjoy quiet walks, picnics and wildlife watching. The Pickering’s Pasture Visitor Centre presents information about the variety of wildlife interest on the site. [From RSPB Liverpool website]

Many different kinds of animals, butterflies and birds can be found in the meadows and woodlands of Pickerings Pasture. In winter the River Mersey has huge numbers of wildfowl and wading birds, while birds of prey, including peregrine falcons, patrol the skies overhead.Video produced for Halton Borough Council with Friends of Pickerings Pasture.

As I said, I didn’t stay for the starling roost – but here’s an image from http://www.panoramio.com. A flock of starlings is called a murmuration – when thousands or even millions come together they swarm as if they are one organism. During the winter months it is estimated that up to a million starlings visit the bridge nightly to roost. The bird droppings left by these and resident flocks pose a continual hazard for workers carrying out maintenance. Over a period of years a number of different “bird-scaring” methods have been employed but all, ultimately, with no success. These have included broadcasting distress calls and various other noises, pyrotechnics, strobe lighting and loud explosions.

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