BTO: Britain's owls need twenty minutes

Tawny Owl (Howard Stockdale)

Evidence suggests that our Tawny Owl population is falling and it might be that we are losing them from our towns and cities. Taking part in the BTO’s Tawny Owl Calling Survey will help make this clearer.

Tawny Owls are very difficult to monitor, as they live their lives during the hours of darkness, so we often hear them rather than see them. We want people to listen for the distinctive ‘hoot’ calls of the males and sharp ‘kee-wick’ of the females. Anyone can take part and the BTO website has a series of Tawny Owl recordings for people to familiarize themselves with the various calls.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes December 2018

Petalophyllum ralfsii (Dr Phil Smith)

After months of dry weather, December returned to something like normality, measurable rain falling on 15 days, including the wettest day since August on 3rd. This helped the severely depleted water-table, my measuring point in the Devil’s Hole blowout showing a rise of 13 cm by the month’s end. Despite this, most of our dune-slacks remained dry. It was also a relatively warm month with hardly any frost.

The moist, mild conditions were perfect for bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), which rapidly recovered from brown, dried-up remnants to brilliant emerald-green patches on both the open dunes and the limbs of older broad-leaved trees. Josh Styles and I continued our study of the critically endangered Large Hook-moss, visiting the large slack south of the Ainsdale Discovery Centre where Des Callaghan reported this species in 2010. Sure enough, it was still there, with several colonies, especially on a lightly-trampled path through the slack where the vegetation was shorter. We recorded quadrats and took soil samples to describe the habitat.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes November 2018

Pseudocalliergon lycopodioides (Dr Phil Smith)

It has been known for centuries that rainfall on the coast is much lower than a few miles inland, yet I have never heard this reflected in regional, let alone national weather forecasts. So yet again, the default forecast for the Northwest of “frequent heavy showers” was wrong day after day. The result was another dry month here with measureable rain on 11 days but not in sufficient quantity to recharge the sand-dune water-table which remained static throughout.       

Year of the Environment Liverpool City Region

Year of the Environment 2019

Named in the recently published 25 Year Plan for the Environment1 by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), 2019 will be a national 'Year of Green Action' for the UK. As part of this wider year the Liverpool City Region's Local Nature Partnership, Nature Connected, is taking the initiative and delivering a LCR focused Year of Action for the Environment. As an advisor on the environment and environmental issues to the Combined Authority the partnership is best placed to ensure our region meets both it's regulatory requirements and the expectations of the people of the Liverpool City Region in the context of rising concern and regard for the environment. This is the LCR Year of the Environment Mission Statement.

Rob Duffy: From the Library; Edward Wilson

Naturalist: Edward O. Wilson

EDWARD O. WILSON ( at 89) is one of the world’s renowned myrmecologists (studied ants) and has been an enthusiastic naturalist since the age of 7. Growing up in the Alabama swamplands, natural history kept him on an even keel through broken schooling, parental separation and his father’s suicide. Ensconced at Harvard, since the early 1950’s, he pioneered the exploration of New Guinea as an entomologist and developed the study of desert island re-colonisation in the Florida Keys.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes October 2018

Fly Agaric (Dr Phil Smith)

After the great drought of 1976, the heavens opened in September and October of that year, rapidly replenishing ground-waters, rivers and other wetlands. In complete contrast, following this summer’s comparable drought, September 2018 was dry, while October was even worse, with measurable rain on only five days, a named storm on 13th producing the only really wet day. Average October rainfall for Formby is 84mm (3.3 inches); we probably had half that. This is important because, apart from impacts on farmers, gardeners, water-supply, etc., so much of our special duneland wildlife depends on recharge of the water-table to produce seasonally flooded slacks. Instead of rising in October, the water level dropped by about 3cm at the Devil’s Hole measuring point.

Hugh Harris: Moore Nature Reserve

Ten Liverpool Botanical Society members accompanied by Anne-Marie Belcher, Reserve Warden and Lee Lappin, local naturalist explored the footpaths and bird hides of Moore Nature Reserve and Moss Side. Moore Nature Reserve is situated between the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey. The 186 acres site has been managed as a nature reserve since 1991 after a history of land use for farming and sand quarrying. Today the reserve is surrounded by woodland, meadows and wetlands which provide a rich biodiversity of habitats for birds, mammals, insects, plants, amphibians and fungi. On the day 180 species of wildflowers were recorded.

Anthony Carter: Ainsdale Sand Dunes NNR

Clitopilus hobsonii (Anthony Carter)

Eighteen people attended this popular event held by north West Fungus Group. Starting by the reserve manager’s office, we moved very slowly down to the oak wood which is as far as we got by lunchtime because the fungi were numerous and varied. The paddock produced a couple of new species for the Reserve, Lepiota cortinarius and Psathyrella bipellis. We also found a little brown job, Panaeolus fimicola (Turf Mottlegill), on a little brown job (a rabbit dropping). 

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