Bullfinch perched in a tree

Nature's Calendar: July

July is finally here, and brings with it an abundance of wildlife - find out what you could see this month, and how you can help your local wildlife through the warmer and drier months.

Hummingbird hawk-moth

When hovering among flowers with its proboscis unfurled, you could be forgiven for mistaking this large moth for a hummingbird. Hummingbird hawk-moths are most frequently seen in the summer months and are a migratory species in the UK, although a small number of sightings have been recorded over the rest of the year.

Though they are most abundant in the south, they can be seen in all four UK countries and an abundance of habitats, from gardens and woodlands to coastal and urban areas. Hummingbird hawk-moths favour plants rich in pollen, such as honeysuckle, jasmine and red valerian.

Puffins and razorbills perched on a rock near the sea

Awesome auks

Puffins, razorbills and guillemots are just a few members of the auk family. Though they aren’t always the most graceful birds in flight, they are incredible swimmers, and are highly adapted to diving and moving beneath the water. Their young will also take to the water in July, leaping into the sea and earning themselves the nickname 'jumplings'.

Bullfinch perched on a branch

Brilliant bullfinch

These large and chunky finches are found most frequently in areas with hedgerows, woodland and even orchards. Keep an eye out for the white flash of the rump in flight, dark black caps and the bright pink chest of the male (pictured). You may even hear them before you see them, so listen out for their distinctive – and almost melancholy – descending whistle.

Swifts in flight

Swift

July is a great time to see swifts, as young fledge and they begin to prepare for the long journey back to their wintering grounds. Keep your eyes on the skies towards the end of the month and the beginning of August, as fledglings get in some much-needed flight practice and eat plenty of food ahead of migration.

Swift Awareness Week also takes place this month, running from the 3rd to the 11th of July. Find out more below.

Water for wildlife

Hotter and dryer months can make it much harder for wildlife to find the water they need to survive. Thankfully, there are things you can do in your garden to help your local wildlife stay cool and hydrated. Check out our 'Birds and Water' page below for ideas and advice.

Meadow brown or gatekeeper?

 

One of few species that remain active even in dull weather, meadow brown butterflies are one of our most abundant species and can be seen in many habitats. But how do you tell them apart from similar-looking species, like the gatekeeper?

 

Gatekeepers have more orange on the upperwing than meadow brown butterflies, which makes them easy to separate when the wings are open. When the wings are closed, the gatekeeper also has a trail of small white dots on the underwing that the meadow brown lacks.

Meadow brown, upperwing
Meadow brown, upperwing (gailhampshire, Flickr)
Gatekeeper, upperwing
Gatekeeper, upperwing (PapaPiper, Flickr)
Gatekeeper underwing, with white trailing spots
Gatekeeper, underwing (Peter O'Connor, Flickr)