An unremarkable month for weather, December 2017 started and ended relatively mild with a cold snap in the middle. Many parts of the country had considerable snow-
December can be a quiet month for wildlife and so it proved, though I enjoyed several successful “wild goose chases” in the first week. A flock of up to 5500 Pink-
A pleasant, if cold, diversion on 11th saw me visiting Martin Mere with Joshua Styles to collect, with permission, seed and a few plants of Whorled Caraway and Tubular Water-
In milder conditions just before Christmas I drove the few miles inland to Haskayne Cutting, a nature reserve that I helped to set up in 1975 with the then Lancashire Naturalists’ Trust (now the Wildlife Trust). There is always something of interest to see at this beautifully peaceful place, a refuge for wildlife in an otherwise intensively farmed landscape. An adjacent ploughed field produced an unexpected flock of 22 Pied Wagtails, with a single Grey Wagtail, while the cutting itself had a mixed flock of 10 Long-
Another excellent spot for bryophytes proved to be the area round Pinfold Pond at Ainsdale National Nature Reserve, which I visited with Joshua Styles. We recorded 26 species, two of which were new to the reserve: Lateral Cryphaea and Dotted Thyme-
Recovering from a heavy cold over Christmas, I was entertained by a reasonable selection of garden birds coming to food, including regular visits from a Song Thrush, now sadly reduced in numbers. Research suggests that its national decline since the mid-
Exciting news from the summer came in the form of a report from two delighted Oxford entomologists who rediscovered one of the rarest British insects at Ainsdale NNR. This was the tiny Ainsdale Dung Beetle (Amoecius brevis), known only from the dunes at Birkdale and Ainsdale, where it was first recorded in 1859 and last seen in 1996. Listed as “Critically Endangered” the beetle was thought to be extinct. However, after prolonged searches, seven specimens were found associated with piles of wholesome Rabbit droppings.