The last month of the year is also one of the least productive for the wildlife enthusiast, the sand-dunes in particular being quiet. However, time can now be found to write-up those summer observations and submit the data to the various regional and national recording schemes. This is a vital task, providing the necessary background information for effective wildlife conservation programmes.
John Edmondson of World Museum Liverpool kindly sent me a copy of his paper on the nature diaries of the great Southport Naturalist, Fred W. Holder (1891-1963). The diaries comprise over 70 notebooks with detailed records of natural history observations covering almost 51 years, on which the Museum has compiled an important database. I never met Fred Holder but, having read some of his diaries, I feel a good deal of empathy with him. On 11th May 1913, he wrote: “There is no pleasure so entertaining as a day spent on the sand dunes; here to the eye of the casual observer nothing but a barren waste of sand can be seen, but to the naturalist the hills teem with life and your senses must be keenly on the alert to see and behold everything.” Spot on, Fred!
Has anyone with garden feeders noticed more Blackbirds than usual? Our garden birds are often supplemented by overseas visitors and this month a big influx of Blackbirds has been reported, probably from Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe.
Marshside saw another, more predictable, invasion as the reserve’s grazing marshes began to flood at the start of December. Duck counts included 17,500 Wigeon and 1150 Pintail, while wader numbers rose to 2600 Lapwings, 2100 Golden Plovers and 2200 Black-tailed Godwits. These are impressive figures, testament to the way the marshes are being managed by the RSPB.