Insects are in short supply in February, so it was good to see a large, hairy Fox Moth caterpillar basking in the weak sunshine at Hightown on 14th. This species hibernates as a full-
In complete contrast to the early winter period, no rain at all fell after 10th February, making this a relatively dry month. As a result, the record high water-
Essential nature conservation management tasks are often done during the winter to avoid disturbing summer wildlife, such as nesting birds. During February, much needed scrub clearance took place at several places in the dunes. Natural England’s volunteers began the daunting task of opening up the Montagu Road triangle, a dune-
Guided walks are a great way for members of the public to find out more about the coast. I did two for the Landscape Partnership Scheme during the month, one to Devil’s Hole to look at the origin and development of this enormous blow-
Wetland work included digging new scrapes for Natterjack Toads at Ainsdale Sandhills and Hightown. These will be particularly useful in a drier period but with so much open water in the dunes this year we are hoping for a bumper breeding season.
A Bittern spent most of the month on Birkdale Sandhills slacks but the approach of spring was heralded by Avocets arriving at Martin Mere on 16th and Marshside on 27th. The most remarkable sighting, however, was a Swallow reported at Ainsdale and Birkdale on 28th. If confirmed, this will be the earliest of this species ever seen in Lancashire and North Merseyside, the previous record being 5th March 1918
February is often a quiet month for wildlife; nevertheless there was still plenty to see on the coast. A highlight at Ainsdale Beach on 4th was a Great Skua or Bonxie fighting its way out to sea against a fierce gale. Using my car as a hide, I was able to get really close to Black-