February used to be known as “fill-
“February fill the dyke,
Be it black or be it white;
But if it be white
It’s better to like”
For the first time in several years, the month lived up to its reputation. Rain fell on about 18 days and, though rarely heavy, its total was enough to raise the dune water-
To help our Natterjack Toads in dune areas where surface water is in short supply, a dozen or so new scrapes have been excavated at Altcar Rifle Range, Lifeboat Road and on the National Trust estate. Funded by the Million Ponds and Landscape Partnership projects, these shallow pools with their sandy surrounds should make ideal breeding sites.
The North Merseyside Amphibian & Reptile Group organised a management task on 6th when I joined seven volunteers at Cabin Hill frontal dunes to create bare sand patches in the dense Marram on south-
I took two old University friends from Sussex to see the waders on 23rd. They were mightily impressed, especially when, on cue, the Peregrine turned up again for its customary snack and another Knot met an unfortunate end. They were also interested to see historical features, such as the steps of the old Formby Promenade and the Black Poplars planted over 100 years ago. We also visited the spectacular Devil’s Hole blow-
The Herdwick Sheep on the nearby Cabin Hill reserve have now been joined by five Shetland Cattle. This small versatile breed, much used elsewhere for conservation grazing, is noted for its hardiness and ability to thrive on a variety of forage. As was hoped, the cows seemed to spend a lot of their time browsing willow and Sycamore scrub.
The approaching spring was heralded by the first returning Avocets at Martin Mere on 13th, while Snowdrops were plentiful from the middle of the month. I was also pleased to find a wonderful display of colourful Early Crocus at Kenilworth Road dunes, Ainsdale on 24th. Despite being garden-