Phil Smith

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes February 2017

Phil Smith

The driest autumn and winter in living memory continued for the first part of the month with measurable rainfall on only three days up to the 17th. Finally, more normal Atlantic conditions reasserted themselves, with high winds of storm “Doris” rattling in on 23rd. At last, some proper rain fell on each day from 21st to 28th. Nevertheless, this had minimal impact on the depleted water-table. At the Devil’s Hole, I found the level had risen by only 4cm by the end of the month, being still 12cm below the ground surface. A Common Frog was hiding in my measuring hole!

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes January 2017

Mediterranean Gull, Southport Marine Lake (Phil Smith)

The driest autumn and winter in living memory continued throughout January with only six rain-days. Total precipitation for the Northwest was said to be 50% of normal but I suspect it was much less than that here. At the end of the month, the Devil’s Hole water-table was 16cm (6 inches) below the ground surface, a full 54cm (21 inches) lower than last year. Of course, this has major implications for our wildlife, especially the Natterjack Toad which will have very few places to breed unless there is a deluge in February and March.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes October 2016

Smooth Newt (Dr Phil Smith)

 

October is traditionally the wettest month of the year but this one was the driest in living memory with measurable rainfall on only three days. It was also milder than usual with no frost. This was caused by persistent high pressure over Scandinavia, a pattern that in the recent past has often switched in winter to low pressure with westerly winds and high rainfall, as in 2015/16. We shall see.

New taxon for Crosby Coastal Park

Notes on Oenothera hybrid (Phil Smith)

A small-flowered Evenint-primrose from a population found at Crosby Coastal Park was collected and sent to Rosemary Murphy, the national referee for Oenothera, earlier this year. Rosemary has now carried out a detailed examination of the plant material and has concluded that it is most likely the 'triple hybrid' Oenothera glazioviana x O. biennis x O.cambrica an identification which had previously been suspected.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes August 2016

Portland Moth on Lichen (Phil Smith)

A rather unremarkable month for weather, August had average rainfall and a couple of short warm spells but was largely characterised by cool windy conditions. My frequent visits to the dunes revealed a surprising lack of large insects, especially dragonflies and butterflies. Thus, after a gale the previous day, I called in at our premier dragonfly site in the Birkdale dunes on 8th and was horrified to find not a single dragonfly or damselfly. This seems to have been a widespread phenomenon, local moth trappers also reporting a poor season.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes July 2016

Frog (Phil Smith)

Apart from a one-day heatwave on 19th when temperatures reached an oppressive 32oC, the month’s weather was unexceptional. Rainfall seems to have been about average but it was often cooler than expected in the first two and the last weeks. Predictably, the Devil’s Hole slack gradually dried up, though there was still a little surface water in the deepest parts (see below).

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