· Wirral ·
Being already in the area, on a whim, I took a trip to Hoylake on the north coast of the Wirral. I hadn’t been there for years. I love the seaside in winter, particularly its run-down, Sebaldian emptiness.
A few intrepid souls were exercising their dogs on the sands. There are few things happier in life than dogs on a beach. A curse on all killjoy councils that ban them!
I was surprised at the number of seabirds close to the promenade: dunlin, knots, redshank, oystercatchers, black-tailed godwits, and an awful lot of shelducks. There were probably some other species in there too, but I’m pretty hopeless when it comes to waders. A couple of hundred cormorants were drying their wings out on a sandbank. Cormorant: from the Latin corvus marinus, meaning ‘sea-crow’. Sounds to me as if the Romans were as hopeless with corvids as I am with waders. The local cormorants were clearly the inspiration for the mythical liver-bird: the emblem of England’s true ‘First City’, far off across the Mersey estuary on the right.
The toy boating lake next to the lifeboat station was every bit as blue and empty as I remembered. Very photogenic, in a Martin Parr sort of way. So of course I took lots of photos.