Phil Smith

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes June 2016

Dark green fritillary (Phil Smith)

Although June was wetter than normal in most parts of the country, this was not the case here. The first rain did not fall until 10th and we missed most of the thundery downpours that caused flooding further south and east. Nevertheless, a few heavy showers and more unsettled conditions later in the month maintained enough surface-water in sand-dune wetlands for our Natterjack Toads to breed successfully in several places.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes May 2016

Dark Tussock (Dr Phil Smith)

 

With small amounts of rain on only nine days during the month, May reinforced a statistically significant trend of lower spring rainfall here since 2000. A recent paper in the International Journal of Climatology confirms this trend for the UK as a whole, linking it to atmospheric pressure changes over Greenland brought about by warming in this part of the Arctic, which then impacts the north Atlantic Jet-stream.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes May 2015

Northern Marsh Orchid (Dr Phil Smith)

Persistent cold winds from the west and northwest were an unwelcome feature of May this year. Although these reduced the variety of migrant birds and slowed the appearance of wild flowers and insects, our coastline still produced plenty of interest. Fortunately, occasional rain meant that what little surface water remained from the April drought was kept topped up. Therefore Natterjack tadpoles on Birkdale Green Beach survived throughout the month, though their growth rate was slower than normal.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes April 2015

Dune Pansy (Phil Smith)

An almost constant refrain in my April notes since 2007 has been drought conditions in the dunes. Persistent high pressure meant no measureable rain fell between 4th and 25th April. This pattern is now well established, analysis of spring rainfall data from the Ainsdale National Nature Reserve weather station revealing a statistically significant decline since 2000. 

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes March 2015

Common Frog at Freshfield Dune Heath (Phil Smith)

A pattern of dry spring months has been evident for over a decade, March having only 65% of normal rainfall in England and Wales. An unexpected deluge came on 12th-13th but a small recovery in the height of the dune water-table in mid-month was subsequently lost. The ponds at Freshfield Dune Heath Nature Reserve remained extremely low but still attracted lots of Common Frogs.

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