Phil Smith

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.

New taxon for Crosby Coastal Park

Notes on Oenothera hybrid (Phil Smith)

A small-flowered Evenint-primrose from a population found at Crosby Coastal Park was collected and sent to Rosemary Murphy, the national referee for Oenothera, earlier this year. Rosemary has now carried out a detailed examination of the plant material and has concluded that it is most likely the 'triple hybrid' Oenothera glazioviana x O. biennis x O.cambrica an identification which had previously been suspected.

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.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes July 2016

Frog (Phil Smith)

Apart from a one-day heatwave on 19th when temperatures reached an oppressive 32oC, the month’s weather was unexceptional. Rainfall seems to have been about average but it was often cooler than expected in the first two and the last weeks. Predictably, the Devil’s Hole slack gradually dried up, though there was still a little surface water in the deepest parts (see below).

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes June 2016

Dark green fritillary (Phil Smith)

Although June was wetter than normal in most parts of the country, this was not the case here. The first rain did not fall until 10th and we missed most of the thundery downpours that caused flooding further south and east. Nevertheless, a few heavy showers and more unsettled conditions later in the month maintained enough surface-water in sand-dune wetlands for our Natterjack Toads to breed successfully in several places.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes May 2016

Dark Tussock (Dr Phil Smith)

 

With small amounts of rain on only nine days during the month, May reinforced a statistically significant trend of lower spring rainfall here since 2000. A recent paper in the International Journal of Climatology confirms this trend for the UK as a whole, linking it to atmospheric pressure changes over Greenland brought about by warming in this part of the Arctic, which then impacts the north Atlantic Jet-stream.

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