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. Hopefully, it was due to the prevailing weather, rather than to anything more insidious. There were exceptions, of course, Trevor Davenport catching two Portland Moths in his Freshfield Garden. Sefton now seems to be the national headquarters of this beautiful and increasingly rare species. Our Northern Dune Tiger Beetles also seemed to do well and I was delighted to count 102 adults on the developing dune-
Another good news story involved the Natterjack Toad. Earlier in the summer, I reported the best breeding season for several years, this being confirmed by the uplifting sight of well-
Two (fenced) scrapes at Hightown attracted a few dragonflies during the month, including Common Darters and an egg-
As usual, the glorious sweep of flowering Heather on Freshfield Dune Heath was unmissable. But even better was my second ever Red-
Much of my time during the month was spent studying a rather obscure and uncommon plant, the Small-
Although I had a Kingfisher at Ainsdale on 3rd, my most notable bird sighting of the month was five Arctic Skuas harassing a tern roost at Cabin Hill shore on 6th. The Skuas had been attracted inshore by flocks of especially Sandwich Terns that gather in Liverpool Bay before their autumn migration to Africa. This month, the largest count by The Biodiverse Society volunteers was 1260 at Ainsdale on 16th, exceeding the previous record of 800 in July.
Finally, I have to report that the Essex Skipper found at Ainsdale last month has proved, upon further examination, to be just a Small Skipper after all. Disappointing; but surely only delaying its inevitable colonisation by a few years.