biological recording

A conversation with Amanda Barber: Nature, Wildlife Recording & the City Nature Challenge

Kingfisher Sankey Valley Canal Amanda Barber

Last month the results of this year's City Nature Challenge were released. Our very own local naturalist and keen wildlife photographer, Amanda Barber, came 1st in the UK and 4th in the WORLD for the number of wildlife observations made over the 4 days. Amanda is still fairly new to biological recording and a self-confessed 'generalist'. We thought it would be a good idea to catch-up with Amanda after the event to share her story!

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife notes May 2021

Narcissus Bulbfly Merodon equestris pair Hawksworth Drive

May 2021 was one of the wettest on record. Some parts of the country had more than twice their normal rainfall. Most insects like it warm, so May’s cool conditions should have meant fewer of them. This was not at all the case. Spring species are well-adapted to the cold and if it’s cool they spend more time basking in the sun to warm up, making them easier to find.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife notes April 2021

Wheatear Ainsdale LNR

According to the Met. Office, April was: “An incredibly notable month in terms of statistics.” It provided the lowest average minimum mean temperatures for the country since 1922 and was one of the sunniest and driest Aprils on record. Here, not a drop of rain fell for 30 days between 28th March and 27th April. As reported last year, these spring droughts are known to be linked to climate change but the general public is not being told this.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife notes March 2021

​  Large Bear-hoverfly (Criorhina ranunculi) Ainsdale NNR  ​

March was a relatively dry, settled month with measurable rain on only 10 days. However, wetter conditions from 9th to 16th raised the water-table at the Devil’s Hole to the highest level since I started measuring it in October 2015. The usual spring high pressure became established towards the end of the month, the warmest ever March temperature of 24.5 degrees being recorded in London on 30th. In Formby, it peaked at more reasonable 20 degrees. These spring heat-waves are becoming more frequent, as a predicted consequence of climate change.

Spiky bog-moss record by Dan Foy

 Zoomed in image of the spiky bog-moss (Sphagnum squarrosum)

All records of Sphagnum in the Merseyside area are rare and indeed very noteworthy, so to find this was a real pleasure, however, Sphagnum squarrosum is a real treat! The species was thought to be extinct in Merseyside; and according to the BBS database, the last known records (located around Formby area) were pre-1950! It just goes to show that there is always something good to be found if you look hard enough!

Dragonflies & Damselflies of North Merseyside by Steve White

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfy, Lee Park Golf Course by Steve Young

North Merseyside has a rich variety of wetland habitats suitable for dragonflies and damselflies, ranging from garden ponds to rivers, canals and streams and several large nature reserves. It also has a large and increasing number of dragonfly recorders and we currently hold almost 11,000 records – probably more than for any other group of insects. Twenty-four different species have so far been seen in the area. We are looking to gather as many records as possible during 2021!

Survey of UK's coast highlights change in wintering waterbird populations

Turnstone by Sarah Kelman

The findings from a survey of the wintering waterbirds on the UK's non-estuarine coast, delivered by a network of volunteer observers, has revealed significant changes in the numbers of several waterbird species, including Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, and Sanderling. 

Volunteers help to shape conservation priorities for UK birds

House Martin by Tom Streeter

The latest BirdTrends report, published by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) provides valuable information on the changing status of the UK's bird populations. Updated annually, this year’s report is especially significant in that it provides an early indication of one of the periodic revisions of the UK's “Red List” due to be published at the end of this year.

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