WFV, Sefton Coast, 27 June 2017

Early Marsh Orchid cocciniaEarly Marsh Orchid cocciniaA group of 12 left the Unitarian Church on a very wet morning to make our annual outing to the Sefton Coast.  We had a smooth journey there and on arrival at Formby we were warmly greeted by our hostess for the day, Pat Lockwood.  Lunch was eaten at Pat's and suitably refreshed we set off for Selworthy Road from where we could access the Birkdale sand dunes.  Fortunately by this time the rain had stopped and it was to remain fine for the duration of our visit.

This area is truly blessed with an overwhelming variety of plant life.  Everywhere you turned there was something to catch the eye, so much so that at times it was difficult to take it all in.  Our botanists were in their element and, ably led by Pat, who is also an experienced botanist, we began our recording.  Of particular note amongst many were yellow-eyed grass, bog pimpernel, sea milkwort, orchids (early marsh, pyramidal and southern marsh), rest-harrow, strawberry clover, sea club-rush and brookweed.  Mention must also be made of flat sedge (Blysmus compressus), a rare find.  The umbellifers were out in profusion with fool's watercress, parsley water dropwort, wild celery and hemlock water dropwort being recorded.  Portland and sea spurges were also noted, giving a total for the day of approximately 130 species.

Birds seen totalled 13, the most notable  being the classic display flight given by a tree pipit.  Butterflies seen were small skipper, meadow brown and small heath.  Moths noted by John were silver Y and narrow bordered five-spot burnet.  Anania crocealis was also identified, this being a new one for John.  This moth feeds on common fleabane and ploughman's spikenard and is found on marshy habitat and coastal locations. Drinker moth caterpillar was also seen on the footpath as we returned to the minibus.

As I reflect on the visit, I can see in my mind's eye the colour of the rest-harrow and kidney vetch, the beautiful flowers on the dewberry and the standout display by the everlasting pea.  The colour of the Duke of Argyll's teaplant, which we noted on our arrival at the site, was so striking as well as the profusion of rushes and sedges swaying gently in the breeze.  What I do take away though are the wide open skies and the expanse of beach and seascape in the distance reminding us all of the abiding power of nature.

Our thanks go to Pat for looking after us so well, Joan for organising our visit, Julia for driving and our bakers who provided such an array of treats for us to eat before we left for home.

See more pictures here

Sally Tetlow

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