Living Well Bus back in Sefton on Thursday 22nd Feb to provide health checks and routine immunisations, including MMR.

Timetable

Sefton's Nature Calendar

Welcome to our Nature Calendar, which will tell you what's going on around us along Sefton's unique coastline and its many greenspaces.

As well as giving you a month-by-month update on local nature, the calendar will also tell you what our Green Sefton teams are up to. It will also sometimes tell you what they are not doing in order to nurture our protected species.

And the calendar will also tell you what might nature might be doing in your garden or local park and what you can do to give it a helping hand.


     

What’s happening?

Days are already starting to lengthen and the cycle of life is starting again in our countryside and along our coast.

If it is mild snowdrops will start to appear, you will hear Robins and Wrens singing and possibly the unearthly and sometimes alarming calls of the many foxes that live among us as their mating season gets underway.

Stormy weather can bring more food sources for birds on the shoreline and most species of reptiles and amphibians are hibernating as we experience colder temperatures. Some are already active though, so do not disturb ponds and flooded areas.

Similarly, wildlife across our parks will be making the most of shelter at this time of year.

Wet weather is a concern and flood risk at this time of year is high.
Visit our flooding advice page for homeowners and landlords.


What is Green Sefton doing?

Green Sefton use winter to cut back invasive scrub on the coast and further improve habitats with conservation grazing, using Belted Galloway cows and Herdwick Sheep.

We will be mowing in some parks and inland green spaces but will be on the lookout for wildlife like hedgehogs and some areas will be left uncut to provide vital food sources.
Find out more about our parks management to encourage the creation of wildflower & wildlife meadows.

The tree planting season continues ahead of the spring. 
Details of how we manage our trees can be found here. 


What can I do?

January is a quiet time in the garden with mainly maintenance jobs to carry out such as clearing and composting, clearing away damp perennials’ stems and planning for the coming year.

We should all be mindful of wintering birds at this time of year. People should not disturb them, especially at the coast, and make sure that dogs are kept under control to prevent any harm coming to them. They get cold and hungry just like we do, do not disturb.

If we live in an area prone to flooding, it’s a good time to check we have made any preparations that can avoid water damage in and around our properties.
Find out more from the North West Flood Hub.

>February

       

What’s happening?

  • Roosts of wading birds and gulls remain large along the coast.
    They are often weak after cold winter days and need to conserve their energy so please do not disturb them and keep dogs and horses well away from these birds. 

  • Wild spring annual plants begin to sprout in the dune system before flowering in March – Spring Vetch, Rue-Leaved Saxifrage and Whitlow Grass all begin freshening up – their tiny flowers begin to appear at the end of the month or in early March.

  • Away from the coast look out for the bright yellows of Dandelions, Coltsfoot and Lesser Celandine, on verges, rough ground and in our parks.
    These are vital wild flowers for early pollinators like Red-tailed and Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

  • Wintering Pink-Footed Geese begin to get restless – although some remain with us into late spring, and a few even summer here, the majority will soon be heading back to Icelandic breeding rounds.

  • Bats including the Pipistrelle species become active by month’s end. Watch out for new about our Green Sefton-led evening Bat Walks in our parks this year – always popular!

  • Amphibians, including our rare species such as rare species including Natterjack Toads and Great Crested Newts begin to emerge.

    Please keep dogs away from pools on the coast as while they mean no harm, our four-legged friends can disturb vital breeding pools for dragonfly and other insect larvae.

  • The Dawn Chorus grows in strength day by day – how many bird species can you identify by song alone?

What is Green Sefton doing?

  • Scrub removal continues on the coast until the end of the month. If you would like to get involved in removing invasive scrub as a volunteer, you can find out more here or email us at GreenSefton@sefton.gov.uk

  • Conservation grazing cattle are still out on the dunes at Ainsdale and elsewhere along the coast. Please keep dogs under control and away from livestock.

What can I do?

  • If you are out in the garden, try to resist the temptation to do too much tidying up before the temperature reaches a regular 10 degrees celsius.

  • Butterfly eggs, caterpillars and hibernating bees will be hidden in leave litter and old stems until the weather gets warmer.

  • Out in your garden garden or local park you might see blue tits and other birds looking for safe sites to begin building their nests.

  • In our ponds, warmer weather brings frogs hopping out of hibernation, which means there's the . The result is that there’s every chance of spotting some early frogspawn.  

 

         

 

What’s happening?

  • Dandelions and Hawkbits on verges start to flower providing a vital food source for early pollinators including Red-Tailed and Buff-Tailed Bumblebees.

  • Likewise Spring annuals including Common Whitlow Grass, Spring Vetch and Hairy Bittercress provide important food sources for early insects in the dunes.

  • Sand Lizards and Common Lizards emerge in the frontal dunes.

  • Depending on temperatures Natterjack Toads could be spawning in the dunes by the end of the month – keep dogs out of pools on the coast please.

  • Common Frog, Common Toad, Great Crested and Smooth Newts all become active.

  • Rare Vernal Mining Bees emerge on coast and will remain until Creeping Willow stops flowering.

  • Early butterflies including Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Brimstone and Comma appear and rely on early flowering species for food.

  • Climate change has prompted many bird species to begin the breeding cycle earlier than traditionally accepted norms.

  • It is now quite usual for spring migrants including Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps to be back on territory and breeding by the third week of March, when once they did not appear until the first week of April or later.

     

What is Green Sefton doing?

  • The beginning of some birds' breeding cycles has repercussions for scrub clearance and tree felling programmes, meaning they end by the first week in March.

  • Wonderful plant species including Cowslips begin to flower – an care will be taken not to mow them out.

  • Belted Galloway cattle and Herdwick Sheep that have spent winter grazing the dunes leave our sites in spring – thanks for the hard work!”

What can I do?

  • If you have space, you could think about planting a shrub or group of shrubs to attract birds through the year.

  • Planting Nectar-rich flowers will attract many flying insects, including butterflies.
  • If you're thinking about cutting your grass, why not leave an area to grow longer and become a habitat for wildlife, including, grasshoppers, moths and butterflies. 
  • With birds needing daily access to water for drinking and bathing and amphibians like frogs and toads starting to breed this month, why not create a mini pond. You can start with a washing-up bowl, but don’t forget to provide logs, twigs or rocks to create pathways into and out of the pond for small mammals.

 

 

 

What’s happening?

  • Natterjack Toad breeding activity in full swing, and all of our amphibians on the Sefton Coast are active now.

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    Spring bird migration starts to really build up.

    Key areas for roosts are between Ainsdale and Birkdale off the Green Beach, Albert Road to the Alt at Formby and the sandbanks off Hightown north of Hall Road.

    Wading birds, warblers, swallows, pipits, chats, gulls and even Ospreys pass along the Sefton coast as they head to breeding sites

  • Harmless Vernal Mining Bees buzz around round sunny sandy slopes on the coast. These mining bees are harmless and rely on the flowering of Creeping Willow in the dunes each spring to feed and for the success of their breeding cycle.

  • Over 1,200 species of wild flower can be found along the Sefton coast, and the hardiest from Houndstongue to Rue-Leaved Saxifrage begin to flower. Please do not pick flowers on the coastline or damage habitats.

  • Water Voles become active from now until September.

  • Cetaceans (porpoises and occasionally, dolphins) and Grey Seals reappear offshore.

What is Green Sefton doing?

  • Sefton's beach car parks are opened for business at Southport and Ainsdale.

  • The Green Sefton team begin mowing regimes in parks and playing fields.

     

What can I do?

  • Nesting birds should not be disturbed at any sites, in gardens, parks or on the coast. Depending on the species birds will be nesting and raising broods from now until August.

  • If you are a dog walker, horse rider, walker, jogger, photographer or birdwatcher, you must not disturb these birds – if they run or fly ahead of you, you are too close. Give the birds a break!

  • Keep dogs out of pools and flooded areas - Natterjack Toad breeding activity in full swing!
  • Please be aware of the Public Space Protection Order on dog control across the borough. Failure to comply can result in a fixed penalty notice or fine. All fouling must be bagged up and either binned or taken off site, and dogs must be kept under control.

    For more details, please go to: Dogs (sefton.gov.uk)

What’s happening?

  • The first dragonfly species emerge, depending on temperatures.

Usually Four Spotted Chasers appear first, followed by a range of species on the coast, in our parks and greenspaces.

  • Bee Orchids and Southern Marsh Orchids begin to flower by month end.

These spectacular plants can often appear in unexpected places from roadside verges to lawns.

  • Natterjack Toadlets begin to leave breeding pools – it is vital that they are not disturbed.
  • Roosts of migrating waders heading north during the spring peaks, however roosts of non-breeding birds will remain into the summer until the end of July when the numbers of birds heading back south again begin to build up.

What is Green Sefton doing?

  • Sefton’s beaches are getting busy again as summer approaches – help our Green Sefton team by please take all your litter home, do not bring BBQs or start fires, and remember that camping is not allowed on this protected coastline.
  • If you are planning a visit to the coast, check tide times (beach car parks may be closed on high tides), and remember that a visit at less busy times away from weekends or periods of hot weather maybe more enjoyable.

What can I do?

  • Please do not take driftwood from Sefton’s beaches as both the toads and their prey use it to shelter during the day.

  • Please keep dogs away from pools, ponds and flooded areas as aerial predators rely on them just as much as our protected Natterjack Toads and other amphibians.
  • It is breeding season for birds, insects and mammals is in full swing – please do not cut back bushes or vegetation as a whole range of species will be relying on it.

Natterjack Toad tadpoles begin to leave dune pools – please keep dogs away from all pools whether fenced or not, this is a vital time for this rare amphibian, especially as this year has not been a good one for the Natterjacks, with a poor breeding season so far.

Sand Lizards begin to lay eggs in the dune system (hatching in August).

Wildflowers on the coast are at their peak – look out for up to 11 species of orchid which bloom along the coast from Crosby to Marshside during June and July.

Over 1,200 species of plants occur along the Sefton Coast, all are protected.

Birds are still feeding young in parks and greenspaces, be careful not to disturb nests.

Dune pools full of activity, with spectacular dragonflies emerging to patrol the airspace above the water – can you spot an Emperor, our biggest dragonfly?

As summer approaches, sea water warms and the chance of spotting more Grey Seals close inshore over high tides increases, and Common Porpoise and Bottle-Nosed Dolphin may also be seen by the keen-eyed as they pass offshore.

If you come across a seal hauled out and resting on the sands, please give it a wide berth – these big predators can bite!

Weeverfish become a feature of the shallows along the coast, if you are going paddling consider wearing sandals or wellies to avoid a painful sting!

Colourful butterflies become more obvious – the coast is host to a variety of species, from the large Dark Green Fritillary to the tiny jewel-like Common Blue.

What’s happening?

  • Orchids and other wildflowers are already setting seed but others are just coming into flower (Dune, Broad Leaved and Green Flowered Helleborine are usually at their best this month)
  • Autumn begins for the natural world – returning migrant birds begin to move down coast.
  • The numbers of wading birds and terns heading south after breeding as far away as the arctic, begin to build.

    Please do not disturb them whether you are a dog walker, horse rider, jogger, walker, kiter, birdwatcher or photographer. Disturbance can result in fatalities.

  • Natterjack Toads begin to head out onto the upper tideline where they shelter and forage until the end of September/October.
  • Jellyfish blooms become more obvious along the tideline – a wide range of these incredible creatures wash up here, please treat them with caution and do not touch – these ocean wanderers can pack a sting, even when dead.

What is Green Sefton doing?

  • The grasslands at Crosby Coastal Park are a stunning mix of wildflowers thanks to a sympathetic mowing regime.

What can I do?

  • Please do not remove or disturb driftwood along the coast – you never know what might be sheltering under it.

    Care should be taken on beach litter picks not to disturb driftwood or other debris that the toads and other species shelter under during daylight hours.  

  • Finally if you are visiting the Sefton coast this summer please remember that BBQs, fires and camping are not allowed, and please take your litter home with you.

    Respect, protect and enjoy the Sefton coast.

What’s happening?

  • Young Sand Lizards hatch out in frontal dunes from Hightown to Birkdale but can be hard to spot as they take their first scurrying runs across favoured dunes.
  • Enjoy the last of the summer butterflies as the spectacular Dark Green Fritillary and Grayling season starts to decline, but migratory species like Red Admiral, Painted Lady and even if we are very lucky, Clouded Yellow, may make an appearance.
  • Migrant Hawker dragonflies can be abundant – the changing climate means that this species which was once a scarce autumn visitor from the continent, is now a common resident.

    One of the more common species along the coast now, beside the Common Darter which can be abundant, the Migrant Hawker is naturally curious and often flies close (just a few centimetres away) to investigate observers.

    Don’t be frightened, these wonderful insects are quite harmless.

  • Bird migration approaches its peak on the coast, with thousands of wading birds, terns and gulls resting and feeding on the sands.

    These birds must not be disturbed  - they are trying to build and conserve energy supplies before undertaking long journeys south, often beyond sub-Saharan Africa.

    Keep dogs and horses well away from them.

  • Offshore seabirds are on the move too, and Gannets, Shearwaters, Skuas, Terns and even Petrels can be observed by watching out to sea from the dunes over high tides – providing the wind is coming from the north west or south west.

    These oceanic wanderers, especially the Manx Shearwater and Arctic Tern, are passing by on a journey that will take them as far away as Tierra Del Fuego and even the Antarctic!

  • With autumn approaching many wildflowers have faded, but look out for Grass of Parnassus, Evening Primrose, Yarrow and Harebell, all of which can flower well into November in our changing climate.

What is Green Sefton doing?

  • Trees and understorey in parks/greenspaces provide shelter and feeding opportunities for fledged birds.

What can I do?

  • Natterjack Toads, although they have had a poor breeding season this year, will still be foraging around the foreshore at night. Please do not take driftwood off the shore as the insects the toads rely on for food use the driftwood for shelter.

    Driftwood forms an important part of the tideline habitat.

  • Give resting birds a break by keeping dogs and horses well away.
  • Please help our team protect Sefton's coastline by taking all litter home with you and not lighting fires or BBQs anywhere at our coast.

 

What’s happening?

  • Orchids and many wild flowers have gone over for the year now, but it is still possible to admire hardy plants like Yarrow, Harebells and Evening Primrose right through the autumn.

    If it remains mild, even the stunning Grass of Parnassus can bloom deep into November in our changing climate.

  • Many pollinators are still active on coast and in parks, and autumn is a great time to admire dragonflies like Migrant Hawker and Common Darter, which can appear in large numbers, often well away from water.
  • Butterflies including Red Admirals seek out fallen fruit or late flowering buddleia.
  • Flowering ivy is the only food source for the newly emerged Ivy Bee, a species only recently recorded here but as reliant on ivy as the Vernal Mining Bee in spring is reliant on Creeping Willow.

    Ivy at sites including Rimrose Valley, Crosby Coastal Park and Waterfront Gardens (esp Blucher Street) should not be cut back until flowering is finished.

    These sites also attract a wide range of hoverflies and other late pollinators.

  • Pink Footed Geese begin to arrive from Iceland with large roosts building on the sands off Birkdale and Hightown by month end – a sure sign that the seasons are changing.

What can I do?

  • This is an important time of the year for flora as many plants are setting seed – spare areas the mower if you can!
  • Autumn storms can leave birds exhausted and vulnerable on the coast, and many migrating species here will be feeding up and trying to conserve energy for long flights as they migrate to warmer climes.

    It is vital that all visitors to the coast, whether dog walkers, horse riders, walkers, joggers, kiters, photographers or even birdwatchers treat these creatures with respect – do not disturb them.

    Keep dogs and horses well away from birds on the beach please – especially over periods of high tides.

What’s happening?

  • Seal pups and adults are possible on the coast especially after periods of bad weather from now to December – members of the public should be kept well away from them.

    If you find an injured or sick seal, dolphin or porpoise please alert rangers or call the British Divers Marine Mammal Rescue Team on 01825 765546.

    Usually seals are just resting and will return to the water – parents often observe pups from the shallows offshore.

  • Winter roosts of waders and gulls begin to build on the coast, especially between Ainsdale and Birkdale, and thousands of Pik Footed Geese roost on the shore at Hightown, Birkdale and Southport.

    The egret roost builds up on north island on Southport Marine Lake (species present can include Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Spoonbill and Grey Heron).

     

  • The high tide line between Weld Road and Fairways in Southport is utilised by Twite (a scarce upland species and prized winter visitor to the coast) – seed rich debris should be left undisturbed for them here.

What is Green Sefton doing?

  • Conservation grazing resumes in the dunes with cows and returning to fenced areas - Please keep dogs under control and away from livestock.

     

  • Scrub clearance, felling and dune management begins on the coast.

What can I do?

  • When tidying gardens and greenspaces be aware that wildlife will rapidly use debris piles for shelter/hibernation opportunities.

    Where possible leave woodpiles for future use by invertebrates and hibernating species.

  •  

    Leave uncut areas at boundaries to provide shelter/feeding areas.

     

  • Ivy Bees, hoverflies and other important pollinators gorge on autumn plants including flowering Ivy – please do not cut it back till later in the year, if at all.

What’s happening?

  • Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads should be hibernating in the frontal dunes along the coast by now, despite the mild temperatures.

    It is imperative they are not disturbed – please do not dig in the frontal dunes from Hightown to Birkdale.

  • November is an ideal time for scrub cutting on dune system, and volunteer groups, including Phil Smith’s Buckthorn Bashers are on hand to help control new growth.

    If you would like to help with this habitat management work, please contact community ranger Jordan Scott by email at: jordan.scott@sefton.gov.uk

What is Green Sefton doing?

  • Visitors to the dunes will often see Green Sefton teams clearing areas of invasive vegetation and burning the cut material.

    This is necessary to keep the dunes open for key species including Natterjacks, Sand Lizards and Northern Dune Tiger Beetles.

  • Cattle and sheep also return to the dunes at the start of winter to help keep vegetation down and clear areas through conservation grazing.

What can I do?

  • If you are visiting areas where livestock can be found, please do not disturb them – keep dogs on a lead and under close control, just as you would do if visiting other farmed areas.

    Disturbance can cause the livestock stress and injury, please follow onsite signage which is clearly posted at all grazing enclosure entrances.

  • Winter bird roosts are well established on coast, but birds are highly susceptible to disturbance during periods of high tides and bad weather, so please give them a wide berth – “Give Birds A Break”.
  • In the dunes, pools and ponds appear dormant but need to be left undisturbed due to dragonfly larvae, caddisfly larvae etc.

    If pools are cleared, debris is left in a pile at the waterside so invertebrates and newts can return to the water.

What’s happening?

  • Winter roosts of bird species including Knot, godwits, Sanderling and Dunlin are well established on coast, but birds are highly susceptible to disturbance during periods of high tides and bad weather.

    Please give them a wide berth – they need to conserve energy especially in periods of low temperatures and high winds.

  • Pools and ponds appear dormant but need to be left undisturbed due to dragonfly larvae, caddisfly larvae etc which will be sheltering in the vegetation.

    If pools are to be cleared, debris should be left in a pile at waterside so invertebrates and newts can return to the water.

  • With cooler weather finally arriving enjoy any late blooming wild flowers in the dunes  even the toughest specimens of Yarrow, Harebell and Campion will struggle to bloom as the mercury plummets.

What can I do?

  • If you visit the Sefton Coast regularly why not sign your four-legged friend up as a Dog Ranger?

    Dog rangers pledge not disturb habitats or wildlife and owners always clear up after their pets.

    For more information go to facebook.com/greensefton

  • Keep dogs and horses away from resting and feeding birds, and help “Give Birds a Break” – a Green Sefton campaign that has the support of the RSPB, Natural England and National Trust too.

Last Updated on Thursday, January 20, 2022

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