Natural History

Tony Carter: A Mission to Ainsdale

Caloscypha fulgens (Tony Carter)

I received a request from Kew Herbarium to collect some specimens of the morels that can be found at the Ainsdale Sand Dunes Reserve. They are recorded as Morcella elata (Black Morel), an uncommon species.  A recent European molecular study has revealed some new species. There is a distinct possibility that the Ainsdale dune collections and British sand dune collections in general, belong to a species not previously recognised in Britain.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes February 2017

Phil Smith

The driest autumn and winter in living memory continued for the first part of the month with measurable rainfall on only three days up to the 17th. Finally, more normal Atlantic conditions reasserted themselves, with high winds of storm “Doris” rattling in on 23rd. At last, some proper rain fell on each day from 21st to 28th. Nevertheless, this had minimal impact on the depleted water-table. At the Devil’s Hole, I found the level had risen by only 4cm by the end of the month, being still 12cm below the ground surface. A Common Frog was hiding in my measuring hole!

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes January 2017

Mediterranean Gull, Southport Marine Lake (Phil Smith)

The driest autumn and winter in living memory continued throughout January with only six rain-days. Total precipitation for the Northwest was said to be 50% of normal but I suspect it was much less than that here. At the end of the month, the Devil’s Hole water-table was 16cm (6 inches) below the ground surface, a full 54cm (21 inches) lower than last year. Of course, this has major implications for our wildlife, especially the Natterjack Toad which will have very few places to breed unless there is a deluge in February and March.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes December 2016

Tulostoma brumale (Dr Phil Smith)

In complete contrast to last year, this desperately dry autumn and winter continued throughout December, with only nine days producing measurable rainfall. Much heralded in the media, two named storms were little more than damp squibs, producing an hour or two of light rain and a fresh breeze.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes November 2016

Waxwings at Range Lane (Phil Smith)

 

After an exceptionally dry early autumn, it was expected, even hoped, that the heavens would open during November. In the event, there was significant rainfall on 12 days during the first three weeks, though in no great quantity, high pressure then returning, with dry conditions and frosty mornings.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes October 2016

Smooth Newt (Dr Phil Smith)

 

October is traditionally the wettest month of the year but this one was the driest in living memory with measurable rainfall on only three days. It was also milder than usual with no frost. This was caused by persistent high pressure over Scandinavia, a pattern that in the recent past has often switched in winter to low pressure with westerly winds and high rainfall, as in 2015/16. We shall see.

Merseyside Naturalists' Association

 

Do you want to find out more about the wildlife of our area? Are you fascinated by birds, plants, mammals, marine life, insects, dragonflies or butterflies? Would you like to go on trips to see them accompanied by experts?
The MNA offers a wide variety of outdoor meetings and coach trips allowing members to learn about wildlife in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.

Contact John Clegg secretary@mnapage.info

www.mnapage.info

West Lancashire Wildlife

 

The group was established in 2009 as a friendly, informal natural history group, focussing on the wildlife and habitats of West Lancashire and the Sefton Coast.

We run indoor meetings every month at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk and organise a variety of field trips and training sessions. 
We are also beginning to get involved in practical, hands on conservation at some sites in the area. 

If you want to know more, come along to one of the meetings, look at our schedule in the events section, or contact The Membership Secretary. 

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes August 2016

Portland Moth on Lichen (Phil Smith)

A rather unremarkable month for weather, August had average rainfall and a couple of short warm spells but was largely characterised by cool windy conditions. My frequent visits to the dunes revealed a surprising lack of large insects, especially dragonflies and butterflies. Thus, after a gale the previous day, I called in at our premier dragonfly site in the Birkdale dunes on 8th and was horrified to find not a single dragonfly or damselfly. This seems to have been a widespread phenomenon, local moth trappers also reporting a poor season.

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