April 2018

Back from the Brink: Norther Dune Tiger Beetle Training Day

Find out more about one of the fastest creatures on the planet!
Training, for coastal staff & volunteers. This training will provide you with the information required to help survey Tiger beetles.

The day will include; identification, lifecycle, habitat requirements, how to survey them, as well as id of larva & larval burrows. We’ll start with the theory in the morning followed by an afternoon walk to see them.

Booking is essential.

Sefton Coast: Aegialia arenaria

Aegialia arenaria (Dr Phil Smith)

I saw several of these tiny (4mm) dung beetles recently at the Green Beach and Devil’s Hole. I thought they were an Aphodius sp. but Gary Hedges sent them to the national dung beetle expert and, despite my dreadful photographs, they came back as Aegialia arenaria. This is fairly common and widespread but largely coastal on sand.  I hadn't noticed them before.

Hugh Harris: Lunt Meadows and Wetlands Nature Reserve, SD3402

Water vole (Peter Trimming)

Lunt Meadows is an entirely new 77 ha wetland nature reserve, located along the River Alt floodplain, owned by the Environment Agency, in North Merseyside. It is sited adjacent to an area of raised bank suspected to be the first point of overtopping in a flood event. In July 2010 the River Alt bank did breach in this location and an area of 80 ha was inundated to a maximum depth of 1m. Developing habitats include wet grassland, reedbed, fen and open water. The site is managed primarily for breeding waders and water vole.

Rob Duffy: Sidewalk Botanist - Early Spring Notes

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Chickweed in flower (Rob Duffy)

Last Saturday, the 14th, was the warmest day (at 14 degrees celcius) in nearly 5 months and an excursion across the Roby fields and ponds was a positive pleasure. Beyond the M62 bridge, a huge field of young winter wheat covers a kilometre in length and somewhat less in width; within it a series of ponds are enclosed by hawthorn hedges, ditches run with clear water and here and there are alder and willow “carr”.

Jim Pearson: The Purple Fumitory

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Fumaria purpurea (Dr Phil Smith)

Purple Ramping-fumitory is a nationally scarce and endemic to the UK, the only place it grows naturally in the world. It is an annual plant which used to be widespread in the mixed farming and arable areas of Britain. However, during the last 50 years it has undergone a drastic decline throughout its former range largely  due to modern farming methods such as the move to autumn sown cropping and  the introduction of broad-spectrum herbicides which threaten its continued existence. It has also declined in areas where there has been high arable reversion to grassland

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes March 2018

Juniper Shieldbug (Joyce Jarvis)

With a few snow flurries at times, and a “mini-beast from the east” on 17th, March was certainly colder than average, while measurable rain on 17 days kept the water-table topped up. The Devil’s Hole at Ravenmeols was impressively flooded, though well below levels seen in 2008, 2013 and 2016. Despite the low temperatures, a few Common Frogs and Common Toads were out and about from about 10th but peak activity was much later. On 21st, I counted 70 batches of frog spawn and the first spawning of Common Toads at Birkdale Green Beach. Earlier, Cabin Hill produced a few Common Toads but no Common Frogs or spawn were seen, probably because the water was too deep to explore effectively. Two pairs of Lapwings were displaying over the fields behind the reserve, their characteristic “pee-wit” call bringing back memories of my childhood when these now uncommon breeders were ubiquitous