There was measurable rain on 10 days in the first three weeks of the month – about average – after which the “Beast from the East” set in, with exceptionally cold dry easterly winds from Siberia. This unusual weather pattern was due to warm air and high pressure over Canada and Greenland, leading to a blockage of the North Atlantic Jet-
There was just enough rain early in the month to continue the much-
Trying to maintain a balance between scrub and open dune habitats is a massive undertaking all along the coast. I joined Natural England staff at Cabin Hill National Nature Reserve to mark some rare hybrid willows for retention before contractors removed Grey Willow bushes that have colonised a dune-
Natterjack Toads also featured in a Gems in the Dunes training course that I attended on 20th, though I’m not sure I need much training after 46 years monitoring Natterjacks. However, the main point was that over 30 people attended, with the prospect of recruiting extra volunteers to record breeding sites and help with conservation work.
My monthly visit to Cabin Hill to count wetland birds recorded two Grey Herons, two Jack Snipe but only 13 Common Snipe, where I might have expected 50 or more of this declining species a few years ago. One of the earliest moths to emerge, a Dotted Border, was floating on the water but still alive and presumably happy to be rescued. Other signs of spring were evident in the usual spectacular display of Snowdrops in Cabin Hill Wood, while a solitary Skylark was in joyous song nearby. A few days earlier, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming loudly behind St. Luke’s Church, Formby.
Several trips to record mosses and liverworts in the dunes and woodlands culminated in a ground-
After a long delay, I was pleased to hear that BBC One Show was going to broadcast the film they made of Northern Dune Tiger Beetles at Ainsdale last August. It went out on 15th, including some good footage of the beetles and a snippet of my interview with Oxford entomologist and broadcaster Dr George McGavin. More useful publicity for the Sefton Coast’s wonderful wildlife.