Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes November 2017

White-tipped Bristle-moss (Dr Phil Smith)

The average November rainfall for Formby is 89mm or 3.5 inches. We just about got that, with 16 rain-days, including a few short downpours between 20th and 23rd. This produced flooding in North Lancashire but I reckon we had about a tenth of their deluge. Some of the deeper dune-slacks began to show surface water but I measured a water-table rise of just 8cm at the Devil’s Hole which remained largely dry. I was amused by a letter to the local paper which blamed the Council for Wicks Lake at Formby Point drying up. This was actually due to low rainfall over many months, for which our Council is hardly culpable.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes October 2017

Buckthorn Bashers (Dr Phil Smith)

October is supposed to be our wettest month but, with measurable precipitation on only nine days, this time it did not live up to its reputation. Confounding the forecasters, one of two named storms produced no rain at all! The trend for mild autumns continued, with several warm spells and no frost at all. Regularly monitoring of the dune water-table showed that it started to rise, as would be expected, surface-water appearing in the deepest slacks but not in the Devil’s Hole, which remained stubbornly dry.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes September 2017

Sericomyia silentis (Phil Smith)

It’s supposed to rain in September and, in complete contrast to 2016, this year it did, with measurable precipitation on about 16 days, though in no great quantity. Total rainfall was about average, doing little to restore the sand-dune water-table which remained below ground at the Devil’s Hole blowout, while Wicks Lake at Formby Point was bone-dry throughout.

Rob Duffy: Report of the 2017 Botanical Survey of the Liverpool Loopline

Zig-zag Clover (Rob Duffy)

The Loopline had been surveyed, in the Childwall section (Liverpool 16), by Howard Harris (Liverpool Botanical Society) some years earlier and subsequently, by himself, leading the Liverpool Botanical Society (LBS), in the summer of 2014, in the same section, where a party of 12 listed some 170 taxa. ‘Sustrans’ held a ‘BioBlitz’ at West Derby Station later in the summer of 2014, where Rob Duffy and Steve Cross (The President of the LBS) were present. Rob Duffy conducted a survey in the summer of 2016 and listed, once again, 170 taxa, but on a longer stretch of the Line; this was to support the August 2016 BioBlitz by Sustrans. This was held at Warmington Road, Knotty Ash (Liverpool 14) and Dave Earle, the Vice County Recorder for Lancashire, attended. Some half a dozen species could not be corroborated in 2017, excluding the difficulty in separating Rubus fruticosus.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes August 2017

Dr Phil Smith with TV presenter George McGavin

The unsettled weather of July continued into the first half of August with measurable rainfall on 11 days up to 18th but then hardly any for the rest of the month. This meant that the dune flora recovered somewhat from the severe early summer drought, this being reflected in a fantastic display of Grass-of-Parnassus, especially on the New Green Beach north of Ainsdale-on-Sea. Even I baulked at trying to count them but there were certainly tens of thousands in what is probably the largest British population of this nationally declining plant. Thousands more were at the Devil’s Hole, though this colony was down on the numbers present a few years ago.

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