October is usually the wettest month of the year but, this year, small amounts of rain fell on only nine days making it one of the driest in living memory. Following on from the September drought meant there was no recharge of the dune ground water-
One result of the exceptionally mild sunny weather was an insect bonanza. On 1st, I counted 15 Common Darters at Pinfold Pond on Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Nature Reserve, while a spectacularly colourful Grey Dagger moth caterpillar was found nearby. The highlight, however, was a large shieldbug sunning itself on a Silver Birch. With mounting excitement, I identified it as a Red-
Another surprise was a male Ruddy Darter at Birkdale on 2nd, the latest ever recorded in North Merseyside or Lancashire. It was accompanied by at least seven Migrant Hawkers, including two mating pairs, and three Common Darters, while two Sandwich Terns called from the adjacent shore.
Then, on 3rd, a visit to favoured patches of flowering Ivy in Ravenmeols Woods was rewarded with 17 stunning Red Admirals and a Comma. These graced the area for most of the month, with 11 Red Admirals and a single Comma still there on 20th. These south-
The absence of frosts meant that duneland wildflowers were plentiful throughout the month, with the scarce Lesser Centaury still in flower on Birkdale Green Beach as late as 30th. Patricia Lockwood asked me to identify a beautiful large-
As usual at this time of year, I organised a series of volunteer “buckthorn bashes” to clear invasive Sea Buckthorn from the dunes and slacks near Sands Lake, Ainsdale. We started this work in 2011 and it has made a big difference in the areas first tackled, hardly any of this highly damaging shrub now surviving. There is still plenty of small regrowth in sites cut more recently but, again, up to a dozen volunteers, some from as far afield as Wirral, soon made inroads. Sefton’s Coast & Countryside Service gave permission and helpfully provided loppers for those who didn’t have their own equipment. There wasn’t much time for bird-