Blog Postings

The postings will be introductions to each of my life lists. The lists themselves will appear in the side margin. I shall do some postings about particular localities and there will also be postings to provide updates every time I add a new species.
Please note that I am not qualified in any aspect of natural history - there will therefore be occasional (or, apparently, in the case of the hoverflies, a lot of) errors.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Ainsdale National Nature Reserve

Ainsdale Sand Dunes NNR forms part of the Sefton Coast - the finest dune system on the north-west coast of England. The area is part of a Ramsar site and part of the Sefton Coast Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The dunes are home to over 450 plant species including 33 that are locally or regionally rare like petalwort, seaside centaury, yellow bartsia, round-leaved wintergreen, dune helleborine and pendulous flowered helleborine. Sand lizards and great-crested newts are found here together with a large population of natterjack toads. Inland, areas of pine woodland are home to red squirrels.

In the early 1980s I was fortunate enough to be a voluntary warden at Ainsdale National Nature Reserve. The job entailed wandering the Reserve for a day each fortnight (or more frequently for those who could spare the time) and making sure that the public kept to the pathways and anyone off the beaten track was in possession of a valid licence to study there. We also kept our eyes open for fire hazards and other problems. The volunteer wardens were in touch with the full-time warden by means of a short wave radio but it only worked sporadically as there were a number of dead spots on the reserve.

The job occasionally proved hazardous; a couple of times I was a lone volunteer telling a gang of poachers with lurchers and guns to go away - not an enviable task but I survived OK and the compensations were enormous.

To have a whole nature reserve virtually to oneself is a wonderful experience - whatever the weather.

The sand is bound together by the long-rooted Marram Grass.

Occasionally a storm would bring a whole dune flowing inland, burying everything in its track. When a ‘blow-out’ like that occurred is was as well to be nowhere near it.

There is also woodland - mainly pines but also some Birch and mixed woodland.

As one goes inland the dunes give way to slacks and areas of standing water.

The opportunity to be there all year round gave me scope for pictures in the snow and ice. (The tracks are those of my friend the fox.)

And in the summer sun.

There were, of course, days when I got soaked through but even those were something special and a joy to be remembered (in hindsight).

The flora of the area is very varied as is the wildlife. I have already blogged about a Fox which befriended me. One day I’ll show some more of the wildlife I found there.