Rimrose Valley – A year in the life of a threatened wildlife site.

Rimrose Valley canal (Barry Smith)

 

Rimrose Valley is a 3.5 km country park and valley in North Liverpool which provides a vital mosaic of habitats for wildlife in an urban built up area, it is a ‘green lung’ for the area and lies between Crosby and Litherland in the borough of Sefton.

It is a former tip and landfill site which was reclaimed in 1993 with a view to improving the area as an educational and recreational resource for the local community. It has two areas of Special Local Biological Interest at Brookvale LNR and Fulwood Way reed beds. It also has part of the Leeds Liverpool canal along its boundary.

The site is under threat from development and I am determined to help stop this. I enrolled on a four part biological recording course with bio bank and have since spent many hours recording and monitoring species data within the site. The deeper I look the more I see what an amazing place it is and how important it is to preserve its existence – Not just for wildlife but also for the different communities that surround it. Hopefully this piece will do justice to its beauty, it won’t be filled with words and scientific information, I aim to provide a more visual guide to what I have found over a twelve month period.

July/August/September

I began recording wildlife on the site in July 2016, it was alive with the sounds of singing whitethroat and grasshopper warbler. Swifts and house martins were circling overhead and numerous bees and butterflies were busy collecting pollen from plants and shrubs – Notable butterfly species were speckled wood, red admiral and peacock along with red tailed bumblebee, common carder and early bumblebees.

I’m sure there was plenty that I missed, it was pretty early days for my recording project and I was very much on a steep learning curve (still getting steeper). Birds I could identify, the rest has been an enjoyable education – especially two bat surveys which revealed five different species within the site. I immediately appreciated what a special place it is.

Moorhen chicks on the canal
Grey Heron fising on the canal
Red Admiral in mid-September
Sunset on Rimrose Valley

Different Species recorded:

Bird

45

Flowering plant

6

Butterfly

6

Dragonfly

2

Bees

6

True bugs

1

Reptile

1

Mammal (Bats/Water vole/squirrel/Rabbit/Rat)

7

October/November/December

My recording through this period really tailed off, it started off well in October but by mid-November the weather and other commitments meant that I just couldn’t find enough time. I did manage to get out on a couple of really frosty mornings though. Families of long tailed tits were flitting from tree to tree and there was a noticeable increase in gulls feeding on the fields – black headed, common and herring gulls doing their dance for worms.

Great spotted woodpeckers were particularly busy amongst the dense patches of poplar and sycamore and jays and grey squirrels were hurriedly storing the last acorns of the season – Hedgehogs getting ready to hunker down until Spring. Other notable winter visitors were Fieldfare, Goldcrest and a great view of a Woodcock……obviously in the air as it beat a hasty retreat from my stealthy approach.

Sunrise through the fog
A contrast of frost and Autumn colour
Rainbow over Rimrose Valley
Great Spotted Woodpecker at dusk

Different species recorded:

Bird

33

Butterfly

1

Mammal

3

January/February/March

My new year recording started really well, with a number of bullfinch sightings along with goldcrest, tree creeper and a female yellowhammer. In mid-February I saw my first Peacock butterfly of the year and by march coltsfoot was beginning to push through and Hawthorn blossom was beginning to attract the early pollenators.

Chiffchaff and sky lark returned and kestrel, sparrowhawk and buzzard were all busy patrolling the skies, Great spotted woodpeckers were clearing out nest holes and there was a real feeling that things were starting to happen….The breeding season was nearly upon us.

Peacock butterfly warming in the sun
Stonechat on the move
Blue tit on a crisp sunny day
Red-tailed bumblebee out early

Different species recorded:

Bird

28

Flowering plant

1

Butterfly

1

Bee

2

Mammal

1

April/May/June

Rimrose is alive with life and birdsong…….chaffinch, greenfinch, blue tit, and great tit seem to be everywhere – Loudest of all is the song thrushes sorting out their territories.. I carried out a breeding bird survey in mid to late April which provided 40 different species of bird as possible/probable or confirmed breeding within the site – Amazing.

Lots of bees are doing their thing around the early flowering shrubs and brimstone, large white and red admiral have all appeared along with speckled wood and orange tip butterlies.

High up sky larks sing and drop to the ground, Kestrels and Buzzards are hunting for prey and voles squeal their way around the undergrowth attracting interest from kestrel and stoats.

Tree bumblebee gathering pollen
Kestrel on the hunt
Large Skipper arrived in early June
Sedge Warbler post song

Different species recorded:

Bird

36

Beetle

2

Butterfly

8

Bee

7

True fly

2

Mammal

1

It remains to be seen what will happen to Rimrose Valley in the long term, this lies in the hands of developers and the government. Opposition to the development has built, with new and existing community groups working together to fight against the new road, hopefully the strength of opposition will prove too much and alternatives will be agreed.

Spending a year with the wildlife on Rimrose Valley has shown me how important it is to keep these spaces free of commercial development. Wildlife is thriving in an area that was created for the good of the community – this is a project that has worked and is so important to the health and well-being of everybody who uses it.

It is vital that we understand our Local Wildlife sites and do all we can to protect them.

 

Rimrose Valley – List of species identified during my recording project.

The below tables contain a list of species recorded by me over a twelve month period, it mainly contains those areas that interest me – in particular birds, bees and butterflies.

However, I attempted others while going about my project….There is so much that went unrecorded during my visits and this is by no means a definitive list of the site.

 Birds

Accipiter nisus - Sparrowhawk

Acrocephalus scirpaceus - Reed Warbler

Aegithalos caudatus - Long-tailed Tit

Alauda arvensis - Skylark

Anas platyrhynchos - Mallard

Apus apus - Swift

Ardea cinerea - Grey Heron

Branta canadensis - Canada Goose

Buteo buteo - Buzzard

Carduelis carduelis - Goldfinch

Certhia familiaris - Treecreeper

Chloris chloris - Greenfinch

Chroicocephalus ridibundus - Black-headed Gull

Columba livia - Rock Dove

Columba palumbus - Common Wood Pigeon

Corvus corone - Carrion Crow

Corvus frugilegus - Rook

Corvus monedula - Jackdaw

Cyanistes caeruleus - Blue Tit

Cygnus olor - Mute Swan

Delichon urbicum - House Martin

Dendrocopos major - Great Spotted Woodpecker

Emberiza citrinella - Yellowhammer

Emberiza schoeniclus - Reed Bunting

Erithacus rubecula - Robin

Falco tinnunculus - Kestrel

Fringilla coelebs - Chaffinch

Fulica atra - Coot

Gallinula chloropus - Moorhen

Garrulus glandarius - Jay

Hirundo rustica - Swallow

Larus argentatus - Herring Gull

Larus canus - Common Gull

Larus fuscus - Lesser Black-backed Gull

Linaria cannabina - Linnet

Locustella naevia - Grasshopper Warbler

Motacilla alba subsp. yarrellii - Pied Wagtail

Parus major - Great Tit

Passer domesticus - House Sparrow

Periparus ater - Coal Tit

Phalacrocorax carbo - Cormorant

Phasianus colchicus - Pheasant

Phylloscopus collybita - Chiffchaff

Pica pica - Magpie

Prunella modularis - Dunnock

Pyrrhula pyrrhula - Bullfinch

Regulus regulus - Goldcrest

Saxicola rubicola - European Stonechat

Scolopax rusticola - Woodcock

Streptopelia decaocto - Collared Dove

Strix aluco - Tawny Owl

Sturnus vulgaris - Starling

Sylvia atricapilla - Blackcap

Sylvia borin - Garden Warbler

Sylvia communis - Whitethroat

Tachybaptus ruficollis - Little Grebe

Troglodytes troglodytes - Wren

Turdus merula - Blackbird

Turdus philomelos - Song Thrush

Turdus pilaris - Fieldfare

 

Flowering plants/trees

Betula pendula - Silver Birch

Crataegus monogyna - Hawthorn

Hypericum - St. John's-Wort

Persicaria amphibia - Amphibious Bistort

Quercus robur - Pedunculate Oak

Sambucus nigra - Elder

Tussilago farfara - Coltsfoot

 

Insect – Beetle

Adalia bipunctata - 2-spot Ladybird

Harmonia axyridis - Harlequin Ladybird

 

Insect – Butterfly

Aglais io - Peacock

Aglais urticae - Small Tortoiseshell

Anthocharis cardamines - Orange-tip

Celastrina argiolus - Holly Blue

Gonepteryx rhamni - Brimstone

Maniola jurtina - Meadow Brown

Ochlodes sylvanus - Large Skipper

Pararge aegeria - Speckled Wood

Pieris rapae - Small White

Polyommatus icarus - Common Blue

Pyronia tithonus - Gatekeeper

Vanessa atalanta - Red Admiral

 

Insect – Dragonfly

Aeshna mixta - Migrant Hawker

Sympetrum striolatum - Common Darter

 

Insect – Bee/Wasp

Andrena (Trachandrena) haemorrhoa - Early Mining Bee

Apis mellifera - Honey Bee

Bombus (Bombus) lucorum - White-tailed Bumblebee

Bombus (Melanobombus) lapidarius - Large Red-tailed Bumblebee

Bombus (Pyrobombus) hypnorum - Tree Bumblebee

Bombus (Pyrobombus) pratorum - Early Bumblebee

Bombus (Thoracobombus) pascuorum - Common Carder Bee

Bombus lucorum/terrestris/magnus/cryptarum - White-tailed Bumblebee

Vespula (Paravespula) vulgaris - Common Wasp

 

Insect – True bug

Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale - Hawthorn Shieldbug

 

Insect – True fly

Volucella bombylans subsp. plumata

Volucella pellucens

 

Reptile

Cheloniidae - Terrapin

 

Terrestrial Mammal

Arvicola amphibius - European Water Vole

Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog

Mustela erminea - Stoat

Nyctalus noctula - Noctule Bat

Oryctolagus cuniculus - European Rabbit

Pipistrellus - Pipistrelle

Plecotus auritus - Brown Long-eared Bat

Rattus norvegicus - Brown Rat

Sciurus carolinensis - Eastern Grey Squirrel