Pretty Pictures from Ainsdale

Today, I was back on the sand dunes at Ainsdale on the Sefton Coast; this time, I was joining in a wildlife photography walk, organised by the Gems in the Dunes team and led by local photographer Trevor Davenport. Trevor pointed out plenty of interesting insects and plants for us to photograph, providing advice like getting down to the level of your subject (hence why many nature photographers have dirty knees) and making sure to move distracting scenery, like long grass, out of the way. Here are some of the pics I took!

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Pyramidal orchid.

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Bee orchid.

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Marsh orchid.

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Six-spot burnet moth caterpillar.

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Cinnabar moth caterpillars feeding on ragwort.

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Gems in the Dunes

Today, I went down to Ainsdale – close to where I’ve done some habitat management volunteer work in the past – to do some volunteering for the Gems in the Dunes project. This project, led by Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, aims to preserve the sand dune habitat on the Sefton Coast, home to several species which are rare in the UK, such as natterjack toads, sand lizards and northern dune tiger beetles.

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Before…

This habitat is threatened by a variety of factors, not least encroachment by humans. The problem that the other volunteers and I were addressing today was the overgrowth of sea buckthorn on the site. Native to the east coast of the UK, sea buckthorn becomes invasive when introduced elsewhere; thickets of it spread over the dunes, reducing the open marram grass habitat that the local wildlife needs to bask and thrive. Since much of that wildlife is inactive during the winter months, we could carry out the work while causing minimal disturbance.

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During…

The volunteers attacked the buckthorn with loppers and saws, burning the cuttings on a bonfire; any stumps were treated with glyphosate so that they wouldn’t grow back. Much of the last hour was then spent carrying buckets of water back and forth to make sure that the bonfire was completely put out! The weather was mild – through a combination of working and being close to the fire, you warmed up very quickly – and the manual work felt very satisfying, particularly as we made such an impact on that particular patch.

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After!

Check out the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation website if you are interested in volunteering yourself!

Bank Holiday Beetling

It was a sunny Bank Holiday weekend at the beginning of May, perfect for getting out and about…

Richard's Blog

Normally, you can expect Bank Holidays in the UK to be as wet and windy as the rest of the year, if not more so. But on this particular Bank Holiday weekend, Britain is experiencing a heatwave. It’s been so hot and sunny that I found myself getting that feeling of pleasure and contentment associated with being on holiday in happy foreign climes. And such weather shouldn’t be wasted, so these past two days, I’ve been spending plenty of time outdoors!

On Saturday, I went down to Warton Hall outside Lytham St Annes, which was opening its garden to the public for a few days. Wildlife TV presenter Nigel Marven – whom I had last encountered in the Philippines – was there, giving a talk on his reptilian pets and allowing the delighted children in the audience to handle them. These included two blue-tongued skinks and a ball python; as…

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