Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife notes August 2021

Broad-leaved Helleborine Epipactis helleborine Ainsdale NNR 1 08 21.jpg

My month with nature started well when Joyce and David Jarvis showed me two flowering Broad-leaved Helleborines at Ainsdale National Nature Reserve. I hadn’t seen this orchid on the Sefton Coast since 2008.  Other notable plants during the month included a small colony of Whorl-grass that I found on a freshwater seepage zone on Hightown beach. It turned out to be the rare variety uniflora, largely confined to Western Scotland with only two known localities in England. While listing the associated species, I came across a plant that I couldn’t name but which seems to be Touch-me-not Balsam (Impatiens noli-tangere), not previously recorded for the Sefton Coast.

Summer Fungi

Hericium ericaeum (Lion’s Mane)

Recent weather has not been very good for finding fungi, however recent days have seen a marked improvement and things are starting to move. Tony discovered a local rarity, Hericium ericaeum (Lion’s Mane), in a wood in south Liverpool. This species is usually found in the south and south west of England, with very few records in our region. A great fungi find!

Work with MEAS: Assistant Ecologist Post

Merseyside Environmental Advisory Services (MEAS) are seeking a person to fill the position of Assistant Ecologist (Reference 20727) - please see linked advertisement.

The Assistant Ecologist role will undertake Development Control work within the Liverpool City Region while also providing support to Merseyside BioBank and cross-over projects such as Local Wildlife Sites survey and monitoring, supporting volunteers and delivering biodiversity data services.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife notes July 2021

Birch Sawfly Cimbex femoratus pair Freshfield Dune Heath 13 7 21

Extreme heatwaves and prolonged spring and summer droughts are a predicted consequence of climate change. Fortunately, most of our sand-dune specialist flora and fauna seem able to cope at present, being adapted to life in harsh conditions.

 A loud hum preceded the arrival of two enormous, tropical-looking insects that crashed into the grass a few yards away; each was over an inch long and their identity had me foxed until my photographs confirmed a mating pair of the Birch Sawfly. I've never seen one before and I was able to trace only a single previous Sefton record of a really impressive creature.

Local naturalist discovers rare insect in St Helen's

 Giant Lacewing (Osmylus fulvicephalus)

Local naturalist, Dave Owen, discovered a Giant Lacewing (Osmylus fulvicephalus) at Sankey Valley Country Park. This locally rare species has only been sighted once in St.Helens, back in 1988 at the Goyt woodland, Carr Mill about a mile and a half north of Sankey Valley Country Park. Hopefully more of these very impressive insects can be recorded in our area and we can begin to learn more about their distribution! 

Opinion: Are the terms ‘Nature’ and ‘Biodiversity synonyms and is arguing about their usage simply a matter of semantics?

The Environment Bill, currently at the committee stage in the House of Lords, is intended to replace much of the EU environmental legislation following Brexit. It will allow the government to set out long-term targets for the UK’s natural environment. During the latest debate in the House of Lords, Conservative former minister Lord Blencathra sought to amend the Bill. According to him the term “nature” commands greater understanding than “biodiversity”, and people can more readily relate to it. Such attitudes are not simply ignorant and wrong but, were they to be accepted and incorporated into the legislation then they could pose real risks to biodiversity in the UK.

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