Another month of not getting out very much. Yet again most of the photos this month are of non-avian subjects... if this keeps up, maybe I should consider changing the name of the website!
On one of the few days I was out this month, I took a short trip up to Formby (just to the north of Liverpool). Here, among the pine trees on the extensive dune system, is one of the last strongholds of Red Squirrels in England.
Red Squirrels are native to Britain, but the blackish fur on the backs and tails of many of the individuals in Formby betrays their mixed origins. This coloration is indicative of squirrels from continental Europe and, in fact, the majority of the squirrels in these woods are descended from animals introduced from the continent in the early part of the 20th century.
The squirrels are very tame and the bolder individuals will even take nuts from your hand.
On the only other day I got out this month I took a walk along the banks of the River Dee to the south of Chester looking for insects. Unfortunately the weather turned dull and drizzly so insect activity was almost non-existant most of the time (and all the batteries dying on my flashgun didn't help either!).
The river banks are overgrown in many places with Himalayan Balsam, an invasive species that has established itself as a very common plant over most of England. The flowers are very popular with nectar-feeding insects, such as bees and hoverflies. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth even put in a brief appearance at one point, but buzzed off over the river before I could get a photograph of it.
The bright red, poisonous berries of a Lords-and-Ladies provided a vivid splash of colour in the dark undergrowth.
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