It was an interesting month for weather, with cool occasionally rainy days interspersed with hot spells. As many as 15 days with measurable rainfall was reminiscent of the “normal” summers I remember as a lad. In recent years, we have got used to prolonged droughts. Climate change continued to rear its head, however, with a new all-
Bird migration begins in earnest in August with a few late Swifts and streams of Swallows heading south. A big tide at Hightown produced an impressive roost of waders, including at least 600 Oystercatchers. More surprising was a flock of 450 Sandwich Terns. They usually roost on the beach between Ainsdale and Birkdale but John Dempsey’s volunteers found fewer than expected during their annual survey, perhaps because many chose Hightown.
Although, it felt quite autumnal by the end of the month, August on the Sefton Coast was brilliant for wildlife. The first day found me on Ainsdale Sandhills Local Nature Reserve, where butterflies abounded. Lots of Painted Ladies reflected the earlier invasion, while Graylings jostled for the best position on Sea Holly flowers, showing off their rarely seen upperwings. As expected, the big Natterjack scrape had several dragonflies, including a single Red-
Another recent arrival is the spectacular Hornet Hoverfly, the largest of its family. There has been a remarkable upsurge in records this summer, Pete Kinsella reporting around 30 sightings in August. I found both the Hornet Hoverfly and the smaller Lesser Hornet Hoverfly on a large patch of Apple Mint at Ravenmeols dunes. It also attracted many butterflies with up to 55 Red Admirals, 15 Painted Ladies, 12 Peacocks, 2 Small Tortoishells and a Comma.
Nearby, insects nectaring on Ragwort sheltered from the blustery wind included several small black-
After last year’s discoveries, I checked for Speckled Bush-
A repeat of the workshop on grasshoppers and shieldbugs that I ran last year for Liverpool Museum’s Tanyptera Project took place on 10th with 15 participants. Strong winds and heavy rain were forecast but, in the event, the rain held off and we found seven species of shieldbug on Freshfield Dune Heath, together with the usual Field and Mottled Grasshoppers.
On another windy day, I decided to venture inland to Haskayne Cutting Nature Reserve in the hope of finding some shelter. At least 30 Painted Ladies were nectaring on a fantastic display of Common Knapweed, while flowers of Wild Angelica attracted small solitary wasps. Photos sent to local expert Ben Hargreaves showed as many as four species were present, including a rarity, Gorytes laticinctus, which has only just arrived in our region from the south.
Following reports of Small Red-
Dragonflies also featured on Ainsdale National Nature Reserve, where a small glade amongst the pine trees produced two superb male Southern Hawkers and up to seven Migrant Hawkers, an insect that was unknown in the region until the late 1990s. At least four Common Lizards basking on some timber was a nice surprise.