October is usually one of the wettest months and so it proved to be this year, though we missed the big storm that hit the south of England on 28th. It was also relatively warm, meaning that several late summer insects were active, at least on the drier days. Thus, a Northern Dune Tiger Beetle was a welcome sight on Birkdale Green Beach on 5th, while Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters persisted to the third week of the month. The male Black Darter I found in late September was still present at Birkdale slack 47 on 5th, basking on bare sand created during the earlier pond restoration. On 17th, Freshfield Dune Heath Nature Reserve produced a richly coloured Comma, three Common Darters and six Small Coppers, this delightful butterfly having been hard to find for most of the summer. As usual, late-
An insect that seems to have done particularly well this summer is the Oak Eggar moth. Its hairy caterpillars feed on a wide variety of plants and, although they are quite small in October, Trevor Davenport and I counted as many as 26, mainly on Grey Willow, in and around slack 47. They hibernate as half-
Early in the month, I was joined by friends to resurvey an isolated area of young dunes on the shore opposite the northern end of Southport Marine Lake. Built from particularly shell-
On 10th, I joined a group of enthusiasts guided by an expert in mosses and liverworts, Des Callaghan, who had conducted a survey of the Sefton Coast for extremely rare species, some of which had not been seen for decades. During a fascinating afternoon, he showed us the almost mythical Petalwort (Petalophyllum ralfsii), a tiny liverwort which resembles a miniature lettuce and then the Sea Bryum moss (Bryum warneum), both being national Biodiversity Action Plan Priority species. The southern part of Birkdale Green Beach is the British headquarters for Sea Bryum, while Des also found it at Devil’s Hole, Ravenmeols.
Another enjoyable afternoon was spent on Ainsdale National Nature Reserve with site manger Dave Mercer and Patricia Lockwood checking the bushes of the hybrid willow Salix × doniana. As well as re-
One of the main threats to sand-