The time of year to tackle our coastline
THE mournful call of a Whooper Swan as it dropped down towards Ainsdale beach was an auspicious start to a busy day for the Green Sefton team recently.
Like the wintering Pink Footed Geese which arrive in Sefton in their thousands in autumn, the Whooper spends the summer up in Iceland and Scandinavia.
The Green Sefton team had less of a journey to make though, as they arrived at Ainsdale for an “away day” tackling a variety of dune management and beach tasks within the local nature reserve.
Green Sefton is a service created after the merger of the Sefton’s coast and countryside, parks and greenspaces, ground maintenance and flood risk and coastal defence team earlier this year.
A teambuilding exercise that was also good for the coastline, the day saw staff digging out new slacks, cutting back Sea Buckthorn, and stripping turf.
Sand and turf dug from a new pool area, which will be attractive to Natterjack Toads, was used to create new dune slopes that should prove attractive to Sand Lizards – so hopefully everyone will be happy!
Sea Buckthorn, probably the public enemy number one of the Sefton coast, grows quickly and smothers areas.
As a nitrogen fixing plant it also enriches the sand around it – great for a garden, awful for a dune system!
Sea Buckthorn is native on the east coast of Britain, but was introduced around the start of the 20th century here as a means of stopping sand blow and protecting fields.
The tasks, at a time of year when many of our threatened species are dormant or heading into hibernation, so less liable to disturbance, improves the habitat and keeps it open.
This means that when the beasties emerge next spring they readily find areas to raise a new generation of toadlets and lizards.
If vegetation is left unchecked, pools and open areas of sands are quickly choked by scrub. These efforts lent a boost to the Gems In The Dunes project, part of a lotteryfunded national scheme called Back from The Brink which improves habitats for key species, like Sefton’s Natterjack Toads and Sand Lizards.
The Gems In The Dunes volunteers have been working hard on the site already, but it never hurts to have a few more pairs of hands…
For more information about the project and upcoming events and to find out how to volunteer with Gems in the Dunes please contact the team directly by calling 01704 571575 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Away from the dunes, the Green Sefton squad began removing “beach furniture” including posts that mark out the summer car parking area on Ainsdale beach before the full fury of winter storms batter the coast – no rest for the wicked!
The beach car park will re-open to vehicles in April next year.
● THANKS for all the interest in my next Shipwreck Walk at Ainsdale – this event is now fully booked up.
John works for Green Sefton, the new Sefton Council service which brings together the coast & countryside, parks & green spaces, flooding & coastal erosion, risk management and grounds maintenance teams for a joined-up approach to the vital management, development and oversight of Sefton’s beautiful coastline, parks and green spaces. This column looks at the flora, fauna and history of the coastline, and the work carried out to protect it.
● Above, men at work: lifting posts from the beach car park at Ainsdale
● Above, clearing an area in the dunes at Ainsdale
● Inset far left, best foot forward!
● Public enemy number one – Sea Buckthorn smothers sand and is a threat to dunes
● Left, some of the Green Sefton team hard at work