City Stories, FREE ebook anthology
William R Jones
Here's a preview of the front cover for the forthcoming City Stories ebook anthology, which is currently being proofread with help from Andy Siddle and Tim Hulme. The photo on the cover depicts part of the Albert Dock in Liverpool, and was taken by my husband Richard, (who's currently trying to mend a broken stand for one of my Tangkou dolls).
Frog pond with pennywort, water soldiers, fairy moss and shy goldfish.
Who'd have guessed that fish have personalities? To prevent the frog pond from becoming home to a legion of blood-sucking mosquitoes, my brother Eric suggested adding a few goldfish. Three have been making themselves at home beneath the gradually-spreading canopy of pennywort and fairy moss. They seem to like snoozing under the water soldiers, and they're particularly fond of peeping through gaps around the aquatic iris floaty-pants. The paler fish has the most confidence of the three; it's always the first to poke its nose out at feeding time then swim out to snatch flakes of fish-food. The other two seem to watch the braver fish for a few minutes while deciding whether to follow it into open water.
There has been a frog living around the edges of the pond, which liked to hide under the shade of the adjacent rhubarb leaves, but now the leaves are quickly dying back, as they always do at this time of the year, the frog hasn't been seen for a few days.
Three fish, one pond.
Migrating birds gather on West Kirby beach, Wirral.
On the horizon are Middle Eye and Hilbre Island.
I couldn't see well enough to be sure of the species, but there was a huge flock of (seemingly) black and white birds resting on West Kirby beach. The photo above only captures some of the flock. Flying above my head, as I walked through the sand dunes between West Kirby and Hoylake, were two skylarks in a tumbling dance, and a hovering, almost-motionless sparrowhawk, and perched on one leg beside one of the many reed-shrouded ponds was a lovely egret.
Twitchers were out in full-force, of course, drawn by the seasonal influx of birds. It's weird how this area is so often overlooked by TV wildlife programmes. Even Coast gave Wirral no more than a passing, off-hand mention. Yet the Dee Estuary is one of Britain's most important sites for migrating birds, plus there's the seal herd and the fact that Hilbre Island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, a Ramsar Site, (being a Wetland of International Importance), and a candidate European Union Special Area of Conservation.
What draws me to the place is the open space, the huge unfettered skies, the sense of peace. My dogs like charging around the dunes, poking their noses into every mouse hole and paddling ankle-deep in the many pools. It's a pleasure to hear nothing but the wind through the yellow-brown reeds, the trudge of feet on sand, bird-song and the ever-present susurrant song of the sea.
Scattered ponds line the beaches between West Kirby and Hoylake,
giving home to Natterjack toads, sand lizards and numerous birds.