Slow is the new fast…


Undeniably it is quieter than normal birdwise in the dunes when the temperature soars – scabby looking Mipits, Stonechats, Linnets, Whitethroats and the odd Skylark, but luckily if you keep your eyes to the ground (rather than the skies) there are some gems to be found, even if all things botanical are running a fortnight late this year.


Can’t argue with the curtisii form of Dune Pansy, a superb plant, and my first flowering Dune Helleborines of the year at Ainsdale today.


This was lucky as I had a husband and wife team of crack orchid-lovers out on the dunes with me (a pleasure Elinor and Phil), and they’d come especially for Dune Helleborine. A quick search yesterday revealed plenty of plants, but none flowering in favoured spots, so I was relieved to be able to show ’em off today, the flowers opening once the sun had hit ’em a bit.
Last year the Dune Helleborines were flowering on July 1st, but like I said, things are running late this year.
At least nine species of orchid in a few hours: Bee, Pyramidal, Early Marsh, Southern Marsh, Common Twayblade, Marsh Helleborine, Green Flowered Helleborine, Dune Helleborine and Common Spotted Orchid, with the coccinea form of Early Marsh, and despite the amount of hybridisation in marsh orchids in the dunes, possibly, just possibly, a North Marsh…
A good day, if exceptionally hot, with plenty of other botanical stars including Bog Pimpernel, Seaside Centaury, Round Leaved Wintergreen and Grass of Parnassus.
Got home and cracked open a cold one, ambling down to the greenhouse, where I was delighted to find a Banded Demoiselle trapped against a window – garden dragonfly tick!
Caught it, took a crappy out-of-focus record shot in one of my moth holding jars then released it gently onto a leaf, primed the camera for a great close-up shot….and promptly watched it fly off to the south before I released the shutter…


Clearly reports of their range expansion in the area are correct.

4 thoughts on “Slow is the new fast…

  1. Early evening on Birkdale Beach a small Gull roost, included a nice adult sp Med Gull, also a small number of adult Common Gulls back along with the other regular spcs. Very distantly offshore – about 8 Manx Shearwater and 3+ Gannet along with 4 Sandwich Tern which moved north along the tideline. Also Sedge Warbler, Skylark, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, a handful of Grey Plover mid beach and a few Oystercatchers.


  2. Hi John

    While you were looking at the orchids I was out on the dunes just north of Sands lake where the scrub has been burnt. I saw a dragonfly flying around which didn’t look like one I had seen before. I watched it flying for about 10min then it settled, so I was able to get some photos of it. I later looked it up and it was a Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis). The ID has now been confirmed by the experts. This is one of the first sightings for Lancashire, maybe even the first, and will be the first sighting of this species for the Sefton coast.


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