August saw the last few Irish Sea events held in The Atkinson Museum Southport. Throughout the summer holidays we had a beautifully decorated room for people to discover and learn about the creatures we find in our Irish sea. We had lots of specimens for people to view, live creatures in tanks, a craft table and even a ball pit to catch facts in! The ‘Tale Trail’ made by Lancashire Wildlife Trust was the theme off which we ran the room. It has a map of the Irish Sea and has turned species into cartoon characters. With the help of local artist Gail, children decorated our ‘wind turbines’ with all different toilet roll creatures. The end result looked fantastic and people had a fun time as well as learning a lot!
I was fortunate enough to be involved in Sandwich Tern counts during one week of August. The Terns roost on Ainsdale beach and a project organised by the council, is to monitor their numbers and disturbance. The birds flocked in there thousands and as the week went on I could get my eye in and estimate the group size by breaking it down.
Unfortunately the disturbance they encountered was quite high. Dog walkers, children and even horses regularly moved into the roost causing the birds to fly up and land elsewhere. It is not only the terns that have this problem but all the wading birds feeding along the waters edge from small Dunlin to large Cormorants. Birds cannot store energy or fat as this would effect there flight weight. This means they eat to gain the energy needed for the day ahead. By having to regularly fly up and land they are wasting this energy and in turn will need to eat more. It was good to have been a part of these coastal bird counts and learn more about their physiology that I can then pass on to the public. Quite often people are just genuinely unaware of the effect they are having on the wildlife on a beach.
After my marine invasive species course in Fleetwood, I had the chance to apply my knowledge to the Liverpool Marina. A group of us surveyed the pontoons for any invasive species. I particularly love surveying this environment as it does feel like you are entering a different, alien looking world.
The events I run or help out with in partnership with the National Trust and The Wildlife Trust are always very enjoyable. Over summer we had many different sessions, aimed at all ages, to explore Formby beach. We found something new every time, whilst sieving in the pools that form on the mud we found an unusual looking crustacean. Once spotted one we found several and on closer inspection found some, seemingly floating, inside a washed up jellyfish.
Back in the office I researched and found it to be a Speckled Sea Louse, Eurydice pulchra. The ones that looked trapped inside the jellyfish were actually predating on it. These small crustaceans have mouthparts adapted to tear and chew animal tissue!
With many thanks to TCV, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Liverpool World Museum.
A special thank you to Esmee Fairbairn for making this all possible.