Bird Cameo’s from our Local Sanctuaries

Written by Eric Hardy in 1935

One morning this October, I was hurrying into town when i thought i could just squeeze in enough time to pass through St. James’ Cemetery, where we have our litle Cathedral Bird Sanctuary, the only Cathedral Bird Sanctuary in the world, and the only one in the heart of the city slum land eight miles from the open countryside. The little sanctuary is a regular ‘beat’ of mine, and yet i must have

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gone through the cemetery fifty times just before this day without seeing anything unusual. However no sooner than I was in the cemetery now I spied any thrush like bird perched on top of a distant Tombstone. I moved towards this was immediately and then off to Tombstone across the pathway and as it flew, the white feathers of it's rump and tail flashed prominently in the light. A Wheateater! This typical harbringer of spring and summer on our sandy Ainsdale landscape or the golf courses at Bidston Leasowe and Hoylake, was visiting the very heart of Liverpool on its migration South to it's winter quarters in north Africa.

It is one of the values of our little bird sanctuary in St James Cemetery - attracting and feeding the many migrants from lonely countryside, to pass over the centre of Liverpool. Here I have watched Goldcrests, birds of the big pinewoods of Ainsdale Wales and Scotland, cole-tits, so numerous in the trees at Knowsley, Grey Wagtales so typical of the Hodder and other mountain streams and large winter flocks of Greenfinches, Chaffinches and Linnets. But the bird sanctuary provides over than catalogue of rare birds: those fascinating little cameos of birdlife or have ever occurring pleasure to the birdwatcher. One afternoon I stood watching a great tit making its methodical inspection of the holes between the great stones of the wall, for a nesting place. Hole after hole it inspected and apparently found unsuitable, for it passed on. Suddenly it found what must have been ideal nesting coal. Unfortunately, however, the great tit was too big for it’s chosen abode. Yet it persisted with its decision and pushed and kicked, flustered and scolded harshly in its efforts to get inside the crevice between the great slabs of sandstone. Ass last it did get inside, but having got in, found it could not get out. The fuss it created was amazing! However, I rescued it, and it had the sense to seek another nesting place.

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Mr.Parkinson (pictured right) the keeper of the century, and I have taken particular pains to get the birds to appreciate the nesting boxes rather than the holes in the wall. Mr Parkinson patiently hollowed the storm of an old Elder, and building a nest box, fixed it inside and then carefully lined the box with straw and grasses to attract the birds. A few days later the nest box was empty, A pair of birds had found this and carried all the nest material house and built a nest of their own with it in the wall.

Mike Faulkner 2016