After one of the driest winters and springs in living memory, twelve days with measurable rain in June were riches indeed. While some parts of the country were flooded, we had just enough to reverse earlier drought conditions. There was even some late spawning by Natterjack Toads, though the tadpoles are unlikely to complete their development. The extent to which our wildlife is impacted by weather condition was graphically illustrated. Rainfall in the first half of the month had a spectacular effect on the sand-
A visit to Hightown dunes with Trevor Davenport was rewarded by impressive stands of Viper’s Bugloss, a plant not much seen elsewhere on the Sefton Coast. As usual, their handsome blue spikes attracted several Narrow-
Another botanical surprise came on 25th when I joined Joshua Styles at Freshfield Dune Heath Nature Reserve for one of his reintroduction projects under the North West Rare Plant Initiative. Having spread seed of the locally extinct Small Cudweed, I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked down to see three patches of Annual Knawel, not a particularly attractive species but one that is listed in the GB and England Red Data Books as “Endangered” and whose only known population in the region is at Birkdale Common. It represents a welcome addition to this reserve’s rich flora, now totalling 363 higher plants.
Our duneland flora attracts enthusiasts from far and wide, including the nationally renowned Bradford Botany Group, 17 of whose members visited on 15th. Joshua Styles guided them round the Ainsdale area in the morning while Josh and I took them on the Green Beach in the afternoon. They were blown away by the variety of plants on view. As usual, they came up with a new plant for the coast, Chinese Mustard, a rather obscure crucifer, while Josh’s sharp eyes spotted an odd-
Early in the month, there were few summer butterflies and dragonflies around, perhaps a result of the 2018 drought last year or the unusual spring weather. However, their fortunes improved later, Meadow Browns, Small Skippers and Ringlets appearing in the last few days. There was also a major invasion of Painted Ladies. However, this paled into insignificance compared with June’s major wildlife event – an unprecedented influx of rare dragonflies. The first signs came on 26th when I was amazed to find two or three Red-