Freshwater Group Meeting at Ainsdale Dunes

Discussion forum for the biology and ecology of Cheshire's Freshwater habitats and the species inhabiting them.

Freshwater Group Meeting at Ainsdale Dunes

Postby SteveMcBill on Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:42 pm

Freshwater Group Meeting at Ainsdale Dunes:

Cheshire Freshwater Group members took the opportunity on Friday the 17th of April 2009 to see what life was like across the border in South Lancashire. The Ainsdale Dune system was the venue for an enjoyable field session. The Ainsdale/Birkdale Dune complex is the largest in England and is a special place for flora and fauna.

We began by exploring some of the inland slacks in the Birkdale area and these obliged by providing an interesting array of freshwater invertebrates, (A complete species list will follow shortly) among the highlights was Water Ladybird. A new species for some of those present. They were found on Flag Iris along with a various species of chrysomelid beetle. One of the Dune slacks contained an extraordinary pool which was almost completely covered in Great Spearwort. Several people vowed to return when it was in full flower to see the effect.

After several pleasurable hours we retired for food to a pub in Formby, only to discover Stephen Gerrard sitting at the next table. The actual quality of the establishment could be judged by the fact that they didn't serve food after 7.00pm (it was 7.15pm by now). I checked the board outside and they had scratched out the lower half of the 9 to make it a bit like a 7. Thankfully we found food in a nearby Italian restaurant and suitably refreshed we returned to Ainsdale to join Pete, one of the Sefton Rangers, who was now going to guide us to our main quarry of the night.

In full dark we headed out into the dunes and were soon greeted by the croaking of Britain's rarest amphibian. Minutes later we found a breeding pool with a dozen of more expectant male Natterjack toads waiting to intercept any visiting females.

We visited several more pools and found freshly hatched tadpoles, recently laid spawn and eventually came upon a copulating pair of Natterjacks. In addition we also found Common Toad, Smooth Newt and Great crested Newt. Including the Common Frogs seen earlier in the day this gave a remarkable five out of six of the UK's native amphibians in one day, in one localised area. Everyone thought it was a fabulous finale to a fascinating day.

A few images from the day can be found by clicking the links below (you will need to be a member of the group to see them):

The Cheshire Freshwater Group would like to extend its grateful thanks to Pete the Ranger and to the Sefton Ranger Service for giving us their time and dedication. Their efforts were truly appreciated! For those who didn't make this trip perhaps we can whet your appetite for next time.

Thanks to Andy Harmer for making the arrangements with Sefton and to all those who came along on the day to make it such an enjoyable success.

Jeff Clarke :)
On behalf of the Cheshire Freshwater Group
Posts: 832
Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:15 am
Location: Runcorn, Cheshire

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