Friday, 20 April 2012

Formby and Ainsdale


Red Squirrel – Formby

Highlights from a trip to the seaside. It was actually our first visit to Formby since the devastating outbreak of Squirrelpox in 2008. Great to see the Red Squirrels are still around and have remained relatively easy to find. Since the National Trust stopped selling bags of  food the squirrels appear to be acting more natural and whilst still taking food from feeders (located high in the trees) they seem far keener on pine cones.

In addition to the squirrels, despite it being a relatively cool 9C I was also hoping to find some Sand Lizards. Therefore we decided to walk north through the dunes and along the beach to the National Nature Reserve at Ainsdale.
Note the 3 rows of recycled Christmas trees on the right presumably being used to stop the sand blowing away.
The preferred habitat of the Lancashire Sand Lizards.

In Dorset and Surrey the only other areas of the country to have small populations of Sand Lizards they’re quite happy living on sandy, lowland heaths. In Lancashire they are restricted to the Marram Grass on the seaward, mobile dunes of the Sefton coast. In 2 hours of searching I managed to find 2 of the bright green male lizards. Trying to get a clear photo of the first through the stalks of grass proved impossible. The 2nd one was being held in the talons of a male Kestrel last seen flying off towards the Pines.
Webcap toadstool
Sanderlings stopping off and feeding amongst the surf before continuing their journey north to the Arctic.

Also the first Comma butterfly of the year, a group of 19 Sandwich Terns fishing just offshore on the incoming tide, countless Oystercatchers, 5 Red Breasted Merganser and some large groups of Common Scoters.

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