The number five is on my mind.
The third prime number, the atomic number of boron, the number of digits on most mammals hands.
The number of European Cups Liverpool FC have won (good)
The band 5ive (not so good)
From when I was a kid the number 5 meant the Famous Five, Enid Blyton's finest creation (in my humble opinion) and a packed lunch favourite too, it was a good day when I lifted the lid of my lunchbox to reveal a carton of Five Alive juice ( the original citrus variety rather than the tropical stuff).
More recently the number 5 has come to mean the fields that I go looking for birds in that make up part of the microPatch in the Patchwork Challenge.
In my recent post "The Hunters in the Snow" is alluded to these fields and said I would elaborate on them when time allowed. So here it is the story of possibly my favourite part of the Patch.
Passing through the gate at the bottom of the old Thurstaston campsite you arrive at the First Field.
This is not the most inspiring of names I realise but I didn't set out to name these fields, it has just sort of happened. I usually start a mooch about the fields from the this end so it is the first field I scan. If I am heading to the shore first then back along Wirral Way this becomes the last field but to avoid real confusion the name First Field has stuck. This is good for Lapwing, Brown Hares and the occasional Grey Partridge.
Watching these fields is great fun, there is much to be seen, but it requires patience. They are big and there is plenty of cover for the wildlife. They are all bordered by wonderful mature hedgerows that teem with nesting birds in the summer and play host to roving flocks of winter thrushes in the chilly season. I have become very familiar with these hedges and know the best spots to occupy for a good mornings birdwatching...
Passing by First Field you go under Dungeon Bridge and reach the Shelter Field. I love this one...
This one in particular has been hot this year. Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Peregrine and a family of Grey Partridge have been the highlights. I once saw a Redstart in the hedge on the far right of the above picture. It gets its name from the old derelict building in the back left corner. It looks like an old air raid shelter. I'm not entirely sure if this a correct assumption (and truth br told I haven't bothered to find out!) but again, the name has stuck. One time I saw a fox come out of the shelter.
If you continue in the direction of Heswall on your right you will see the field known as the Yarnsie.
I found this out from a local birder called Dave. Dave has been watching the Dee for years and years. He has forgotten more stuff about the Patch than I will ever know - a real expert. He told me that he was looking at some old papers in the local library when he found an anceint map with this field marked as the Yarnsie. I recently Googled this word in an effort to find out more. All I got was a website that sold bracelets... The mystery remains. Here is the Yarnsie...
This is the only field on the south side of the Wirral Way and looking at it from this footpath its is the only one with a view to the river. The Yarnsie was briefly know as Mini Martin Mere over the winter as plenty of geese were hanging around there. They are all gone now and have been replaced by corvids, some are just visible as black spots on the right of the picture.
Directly opposite the Yarnsie is the Exhibition Field. So called because of a fantastic day of wildlife watching a few years ago. In this one field in a few short hours we saw Lapwings with chicks, Yellowhammer, Golden Plover, Grey & Red-legged Partridge, Buzzard and Brown Hare. It was like a farmlad wildlife exhibition. It has never been that good since but the name has stuck. Here it is...
I particularly like this field and especially the bottom left hand corner. I just love sitting quietly looking along the hedge to the Wood Pigeon Tree (so called because, yes, you guessed it, there is almost always a Wood Pigeon sat in it). This is a great spot for Brown Hare.
Then we come to the 5th and final field. What to call this? It is sandwiched between the Dungeon woodland and the Exhibition. There are usually cattle on it so the grass is kept short. In it you usually get Lapwing, Golden Plover, occasionally Black-tailed Godwit. Redwing and Fieldfare are usually there towards the end of winter (although not today!). I have sometimes seen a Green Woodpecker feeding on grubs by cow pats. The 5th field... I'm not happy with that as a name, too similar to the First Field. No distinguishing features, it has a pond, but so do Shelter and Exhibition so can't be Pond Field, plus that sounds rubbish too.
This leads me to ponder the number 5. I'm not going to call it Boron or digits... What else has a series of 5? Then it dawns on me. New York City - the five boroughs. Bingo. Now all I have to do is remember them and pick one as a name for my final field. I can recall Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. The 5th escapes me. I'm thinking Long Island but it turns out to be Staten Island... close!
I decide on Manhatten simply because the trees of the Dungeon break the skyline in something (very) loosely resembling skyscrapers. Here is Manhattan....
So there you have it the Five Fields. As we edge closer to Spring I am starting to anticipate the birds I will find here, the encounters with hares and foxes.
Bring it on...