March was a relatively dry, settled month with measurable rain on only 10 days. However, wetter conditions from 9th to 16th raised the water-
On my way down to the Devil’s Hole on 1st, I bumped into a chap taking aerial photos with a drone. He kindly sent me some of the Devil’s Hole showing the spectacular flooding. The following day, I visited the nearby Cabin Hill National Nature Reserve, mainly to photograph the water-
Walking across Falklands Way dunes at Ainsdale on 7th, I was pleased to find a sizeable Rabbit warren, now a rare sight in the dunes. My goal was to photograph some more of the slacks on Ainsdale Local Nature Reserve, recently cleared of scrub by the two large machines brought in by Green Sefton. I described this work in last month’s notes but I had missed several sites at the south end of the reserve. What a wonderful job they have done! Over the next few years, it will be fascinating to see what colonises these slacks and the large bare sand patches created while burying the uprooted Sea Buckthorn and birch.
From about 100m away, I noticed a large bush with strikingly red stems. Closer inspection revealed a likely candidate for the extremely rare Don’s Willow, a hybrid between Creeping and Purple Willow. There are only just over 40 individuals known in Britain, 38 being on the Sefton dunes. Nearby, was another much smaller bush with similar features. I took some twigs to grow on in water, one surviving long enough to produce a few catkins, confirming that it was indeed a female of this hybrid. I’ll check the other one later in the month.
I heard that some scrub removal had also taken place at Queen’s Jubilee Nature Trail near Southport so I went to have a look on 8th. About half-
Having missed out last year, I thought I should reacquaint myself with the Early Sand-
One of my favourite insect groups, the hoverflies, start appearing in late March, these being attracted especially to willow catkins. A huge Grey Willow in Pinfold Meadow near the entrance to Ainsdale NNR had a fabulous display of male catkins and Pete Kinsella sent me photos of a fine selection of spring hoverflies he saw there on 30th. I went the following day, which wasn’t quite as good, though I did manage to see a new species, the Large Bear Hoverfly, a spectacular bumblebee mimic that is rather scarce in the Northwest. Several other hoverflies and two Commas added to the interest, while Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler were singing and two Buzzards flew low overhead mewing. For as long as I can remember a population of wild Daffodils has flowered near the reserve’s entrance track. They were still there -