Hugh Harris: Global seabird conservation: hoisting the mast for hope on a stormy sea

On Monday 3 September 2018 at the Chadwick Lecture Theatre, University of Liverpool, Cleo Small, Head of the BirdLife International Marine Programme was the opening speaker of the three-day 14th International Seabird Group Conference.

Rob Duffy: Notes from the Drought

Little did anyone expect, on May 2nd, that with the mid afternoon temperature at a bracing 12 degrees  and a healthy dollop of some 7.5 mms of rain, we would be soon regarding the latter with some nostalgia and the former as an uncomfortable memory 

Temperatures rose steeply that week up to the torrid Bank Holiday week end, only to plunge down again, to once again rise to the low 20’s by the 19th and here they remained by and large till the end of the month. A trip to Bodnant Gardens, with the Friends of Calderstones Park, on the 25th, witnessed 7mm of rain( fortunately towards the end of the visit), and a couple of days later we heard thunder: The air was coming from a southerly direction.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes August 2018

Bishop's Mitre (Dr Phil Smith)

In this driest and hottest summer since 1976, the blessed relief of at least some rain on 12 August days helped to temper the worst effects. However, the damage and costs to the country became increasingly evident, with agriculture reporting production losses of 50% or more. Not to worry, rather than celebrating desperately needed rainfall, the TV weather presenters described the only really wet day during the month (26th) as “Soggy Sunday”!

Freshfield Dune Heath: Rhacognathus punctatus

Rhacognathus punctatus (Dr Phil Smith)

Another interesting discovery at Freshfield by Dr Phil Smith. This Shieldbug (Rhacognathus punctatus the Heather Shieldbug) is otherwise unknown from locations in South Lancashire (VC59). As a whole there are only 200 records for the UK (NBN Atlas 09.08.2018).

The only other records for our area are from Coastal Surveys carried out by the natural history staff at the World Museum Liverpool. This survey produced 4 records of this species. All of them from locations within the same nature reserve and all collected on the 15th July 1997.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes July 2018

Coastal fire damage (Dr Phil Smith)

With the countryside in flames, farmers losing millions and the water-supply industry in turmoil, the TV weather presenters finally acknowledged the longest summer drought since 1976 and started to talk about the “chance” of showers, rather than the “risk”! We actually had six days with measurable rain during July but only on 29th was there enough to make a difference to the parched landscape. A spate of fires along the coast seemed inevitable. The biggest at Hightown dunes, Altcar Training Camp and Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Nature Reserve each destroyed several hectares, while several smaller blazes were also reported. Further afield, about a third of Lytham St. Anne’s Local Nature Reserve went up in flames. These fires can kill small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates but most plants usually recover quite quickly. Thus, after three weeks, the Hightown fire site was already showing regrowth of vegetation.

Rob Duffy: Sidewalk Botanist Goes Brookside: A short excursion down Court Hey Brook

Pools of the Brook, Court Hey Park (Rob Duffy)

Court Hey Brook is some 680 metres long within its Park and is crossed by two footbridges, one in the “middle” and the other at the southern end. It was never a boundary within the Victorian estate which ran uphill to the present Rimmer Avenue and it barely appears on any maps. It is hard to believe that its hydrology was significantly altered about a decade ago (United Utilities); designed to protect the east bank’s back gardens from being undercut by waters that have subsequently failed, the remnant sandbanks seem now arcane relics.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes June 2018

Maiden Pink (Dr Phil Smith)

Reports of Red-eyed Damselflies at new localities in Merseyside led Trevor Davenport and me to visit the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at Aintree where this distinctive species can be found perching on Fringed Water-lily leaves. We logged about 25 Red-eyes, including several pairs, as well as four other species of dragonfly in this exceptional month for these ancient insects.

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