Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes May 2018

Large Red Damselflies (Dr Phil Smith)

The Met. Office reckoned it was the warmest and sunniest May on record; it was also dry with measurable rainfall on only eight days. Forecasts of torrential thunder-storms came day after day during the last week but all we got were a couple of brief showers on 30th and 31st. The duneland water-table therefore fell rapidly, the Newest Green Beach at Ainsdale with 1000+ small Natterjack tadpoles on 2nd having completely dried up by 13th. Fortunately, tadpoles at several other sites, including the Devil’s Hole, survived until at least the end of the month.

Odonata in North Merseyside

Calyopteryx virgo, Cumbria (Ben Deed)

The Beautiful Demoiselle, Calopteryx virgo, is a Damselfly native to the UK and occurs in Cheshire and Cumbria. However, there are currently no verified records of this species for North Merseyside (see The LCFS 'The Dragonflies of Lancashire and North Merseyside', 2015 for further info).

All Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies) are considered local conservation priority species particular where there are locally significant breeding sites.

Red-veined Darters

Red-veined Darter (Dr Phil Smith)

Information and photo credit Dr Phil Smith,

Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) have been spotted at Ainsdale Sandhills Local Nature Reserve not farm from the Ainsdale Discovery Centre.

This species is found infrequently. Largely considered a migrant but with some breeding populations in the UK, considered unstable by the British Dragonfly Society.

Hugh Harris: Asparagus Trail, Formby Point NT. SD280065

Asparagus Beetle (David Gould)

Formby Asparagus (also the name of the variety) is white at the base and green through the stem with a purple tinged tip. New asparagus crowns are grown from seed which is saved from the old plant. After the first year, the crowns are transplanted into a 20cm deep trench and a ridge 8cm high is piled up around them. The first cutting can be taken in the third year. While tractors are now used to manage the land, the crop is cut by hand.

Rob Duffy: Sidewalk Botanist gets close and personal with a saxifrage and illustrates the tribulations of using

I borrowed BioBank’s copy of “Poland” to try and resolve the mystery of its identity from a
fragment I had taken - comprising fully intact leaves- and found myself keying out Saxifraga
umbrosa (Pyrenean saxifrage) , or Saxifrage nivalis (Alpine saxifrage). I was really attracted to the
latter because “Poland” refers to “the long wavy cilia near the base” (of the petiole).

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