It’s becoming repetitive, but May 2019 was yet another dry month in Sefton. Only eight days had measurable rainfall, none of it heavy or persistent. Like last year, duneland vegetation was looking parched by mid-
However, drought conditions could not prevent May on the Sefton Coast producing a wealth of wildlife as usual. Altcar Training Camp proved a case in point. This large (620 acre) estate is normally off-
Another highlight was a visit by the renowned author and insect photographer, Paul Brock, who is based in the New Forest, Hampshire. I have three of his books. He contacted me to ask where he might find Northern Dune Tiger Beetle, the only British tiger beetle he hadn’t seen. I recommended the Devil’s Hole and Birkdale Green Beach. Trevor Davenport and I met him at Ainsdale, where we soon saw plenty of tiger beetles on the Green Beach. Within minutes of our arrival, Trevor also found another of Paul’s targets, the spectacular caterpillar of the Dark Tussock moth. Paul also pointed out several insects I hadn’t seen before, including the Spring Heath Robberfly. This dune and heathland specialist is small and easily overlooked.
As usual, Patricia Lockwood joined me in our regular plant surveys. While recording on what we call the “Even Newer Green Beach” at Ainsdale, Pat spotted a new plant for the coast, the exotic, Iron Cross (Oxalis tetraphylla), named from its distinctive markings. Pat also refound the beautiful Drooping Star-
I went to see an even rarer bird on 18th, Lancashire’s second ever North American Stilt Sandpiper, which graced The Wildlife Trust’s Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve for several days. Looking rather like a slimmer version of a Curlew Sandpiper, this elegant wader had made friends with a much larger Black-
Late in the month I visited Downholland Book at Alt Bridge on the outskirts of Formby to renew acquaintance with the superb Banded Demoiselle. A variety of other insects included the Downlooker Snipe Fly, so called because it often rests in a head-
The month ended with a walk round the Altcar estate with members of the Altcar Conservation Advisory Group to watch big machines digging out invasive Japanese Rose bushes in a major control programme. Over the next few years, it is hoped to extend this across the rest of the dune system. Conservation in action!