Wednesday, 5th October 2016 – The Greening of Birkdale Beach – Phil Smith
Phil is an expert on the ecology of the Sefton Coast, and has previously given us a beautifully illustrated talk about dragonflies.
He was due to give a talk about the protected Natterjack Toad, until his computer “had a meltdown” as he put it.
Instead, Phil gave us a wonderful talk about the way the beach at Birkdale has been changing in recent times. It began in 1986 as scattered patches of Common Saltmarsh-grass Puccinellia maritima. These accumulated blown sand forming low hummocks, which grew forming embryo dunes which were then colonised by Sand Couch and later Marram Grass. Behind this dune ridge was initially saltmarsh but the ridge impeded drainage both from the original dune edge and the land drains taking surface water onto the shore from the coastal road and the golf course. This resulted in seasonally flooded lagoons which eventually developed into dune-slack, saltmarsh and swamp.
Illustrated by diagrams and photographs (before and after), Phil showed us what a diverse habitat has now developed and become home to many species of plant and animal life. An excellent substitute for the Natterjack talk! Thanks Phil.