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.
Easterly winds, especially early in the month, led to an unprecedented arrival of Yellow-
The relatively mild weather meant that some butterflies and other insects were active late into the month. My favourite patches of flowering ivy in the Ravenmeols woodland were graced by as many as 20 Red Admirals on 6th, two of these stunning insects remaining until 24th. A Painted Lady was also on the ivy, while others turned up at Birkdale Green Beach and Falklands Way Ainsdale, their fresh condition indicating these had been reared locally from earlier migrants. Small Coppers also had a late brood, with small numbers in several places on the dunes. The occasional Common Darter was not exceptional for October, while Field Grasshoppers were still to be found throughout the month on south-
A visit to Marshside saltmarsh on 11th with Patricia Lockwood and student botanist Joshua Styles was rewarded with the usual four species of Glasswort, now showing attractive autumn tints. Searching the strandline at the back of the marsh, we also found Babington’s Orache and the two scarce hybrids, Kattegat and Taschereau’s Orache, as well as a single specimen of the rare Long-
A later trip with Pat and Josh to Falklands Way produced a huge Yucca in full flower and ten out of the 19 different Cotoneasters recorded for the Sefton Coast. These garden-
Several visits to the Devil’s Hole in the Ravenmeols Local Nature Reserve revealed that the depleted water-
Following up a report by John Dempsey, Pat Lockwood and I searched the slacks at Ainsdale LNR on 25th. We counted over 250 Field Gentians, including many still in full flower. This beautiful plant is Red Data Book listed as “Endangered” in England, our dunes probably supporting the largest population in the country. Later we called in at the Tesco carpark in Southport where Brian Woolley had reported Broad-
Finally, the regular series of “Buckthorn Bashes” began with volunteers clearing invasive Sea Buckthorn at Ainsdale. Our fame is spreading, as Garry Hibberd, the manager of Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Holme reserve got in touch to ask how many annual cuts were required to control this menace. The answer is at least five, so you have to keep at it.