Excellent pictures and info from Dan Flenley on his part in the continuing study into Sandhill Rustics along the coast.
Keen-eyed readers of the blog will have seen some gen from Dan in the "comments" a week or so back, now he has kindly sent me some more words and pix on one of the most enigmatic of the coast's residents.
There's Dan below, out surveying away in the late summer night, while most of us are tucked up snug and warm in the pub.
I've never seen Sandhill Rustic (it doesn't come to moth traps that I know of, and spends most of its life UNDER the sand), and along with the achingly scarce Petalwort, it serves as an important reminder about just how much rare stuff we have on this coast, never mind the Sand Lizards, Natterjacks, Dune Helleborines, Northern Dune Tiger Beatles, Red Squirrels etc etc.
I'm gonna try to catch up with the moth this summer, but nothing is guaranteed with this critter.
I'll let Dan take up the story - after all, he's one of the ones who does all the work on the Sandhill Rustic....
"We saw 450 Sandhill Rustics during the flight season, spread out over 3 sites (Green Beach, Ravenmeols Dunes and Southport).
"We suspect we're picking up maybe 1 in 10 of them, which would give a Sefton Coast population of a whopping 4,500. (Well, it's whopping for an endangered species, anyway.)
"They do seem to like areas with lots of Sand Couch and Saltmarsh Grass growing on dry substrates, providing the roots of these species aren't too shallow", Dan explains.
"At sites where these conditions are present, it's still a bit hit-and-miss as to whether the moth will be there.
"The Sefton Coast Sandhill Rustic population might well be a metapopulation, i.e. a population spread over several suitable sites, but only occupying a selection of these at any one moment due to a changing picture of small-scale extinctions and colonisations".
Many thanks for sharing Dan - I guess for most of us, it's the closest we'll ever get to Sandhill Rustic (God, even the name is enigmatic).
Back in the now, and February - I've been working on Birkdale dunes for the last few days - Curlews on the move, as are small parties of Mipits, bouncing north, with Goldcrest, titmice and Bullfinch in the scrub as usual - it'll all be starting again soon.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...