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.

Hugh Harris: Sudley, a Liverpool Merchant’s House, NML

Quercus petraea (Tournasol7)

 In 1883, it was sold to the Victorian ship owner and merchant George Holt who founded the Lamport and Holt Shipping Line. The house was his residence until his death in 1896 during which time he formed a magnificent collection of contemporary art and sculpture. He decorated and furnished the ground floor rooms and hung his collection of paintings here. The Sudley House Art Gallery is now part of the National Museums of Liverpool with permanent displays in period rooms with many fine examples of 18th and 19th century Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Indeed, Sudley House now accommodates Britain’s only remaining complete art collection of a Victorian merchant and entrepreneur. The artists include John Everett Millais, Landseer, George Romney, Reynolds, Frith, William Holman-Hunt, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and JMW Turner.

Become a Dragon Hunter!

Dragon Hunter Challenge

Dragon hunters will have 1 month to explore their local wetlands, rivers and ponds, and try and find as many species as possible. By signing up to the Challenge you'll take part in a journey of discovery, delving into the fascinating world of Dragonflies!  Not only will you master identifying some of the most ferocious and beautiful insects in the UK, you'll learn all about their enchanting life cycle and behavior, and how to help protect them. This is a great summer activity for all ages!

Rob Duffy: Sidewalk Botanist-June Notes

(Rob Duffy)

The “scrapes” in Court Hey Park are as dry as a bone and can be traversed to inspect the wetland flora-the flora of the pavement cracks too has altered completely under the unrelenting Sun but, with the disappearance of the widespread Thale Cress, many species, particularly Willowherbs, are surviving. Perhaps this is the time to get to grips with this common garden weed? Identification is not too difficult, depending on the shape of the stigma, whether there are ridges on the stem, the length of the petiole, or the length of the leaves and pods, to name but a few features. But, beware of hybridisation!

Twilight Sessions

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Ben Deed)

So far the sessions have looked at everything from Carrion Beetles to Bryophytes! (not to mention the awesome wonder that are the Springtails) with even a few outdoor intros to eDNA (Amanda) and vacuum sampling (Steve). It is this type of mentoring that the group was really founded to try and encourage. You are the enthusiasts and by sharing your knowledge with and supporting each other we can create a strong network of naturalists that can last well beyond the lifetime of any one project or even organisation.

Species Action: Agapanthia villosoviridescens

Agapanthia villosoviridescens

Only recorded a handful of times in St Helens in 2013 and 2014 this beetle is very much to the North of it's range. It may well be moving Northwards in response to climate pressures but also requires sensitive management of grasslands. In particular Hogweeds and Cow Parsely. This is certainly one to look out for with it's flight period given as May to June (though possibly, year round).

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes May 2018

Large Red Damselflies (Dr Phil Smith)

The Met. Office reckoned it was the warmest and sunniest May on record; it was also dry with measurable rainfall on only eight days. Forecasts of torrential thunder-storms came day after day during the last week but all we got were a couple of brief showers on 30th and 31st. The duneland water-table therefore fell rapidly, the Newest Green Beach at Ainsdale with 1000+ small Natterjack tadpoles on 2nd having completely dried up by 13th. Fortunately, tadpoles at several other sites, including the Devil’s Hole, survived until at least the end of the month.

Odonata in North Merseyside

Calyopteryx virgo, Cumbria (Ben Deed)

The Beautiful Demoiselle, Calopteryx virgo, is a Damselfly native to the UK and occurs in Cheshire and Cumbria. However, there are currently no verified records of this species for North Merseyside (see The LCFS 'The Dragonflies of Lancashire and North Merseyside', 2015 for further info).

All Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies) are considered local conservation priority species particular where there are locally significant breeding sites.

Hugh Harris: Asparagus Trail, Formby Point NT. SD280065

Asparagus Beetle (David Gould)

Formby Asparagus (also the name of the variety) is white at the base and green through the stem with a purple tinged tip. New asparagus crowns are grown from seed which is saved from the old plant. After the first year, the crowns are transplanted into a 20cm deep trench and a ridge 8cm high is piled up around them. The first cutting can be taken in the third year. While tractors are now used to manage the land, the crop is cut by hand.

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