Bell heather Erica cinerea, heathland restoration, Farnham Heath RSPB reserve, Surrey, England

Nature's calendar

Whether in your garden or out on a walk, nature is happening all around us. Find out what you should look out for this month to spot the very best the wild world has to offer.

 

August

Birds

Migrant watch

  • We think of August as summer but for birds it’s time to thinking about heading to the wintering grounds.
  • Waders are well on the move to a visit to a wetland during August should reveal Black-tailed Godwits, common sandpipers and scarcer species such as a little ringed plover or a wood sandpiper.
  • Reedbed attracts huge numbers of roosting swallows and sand martins which are looking for a safe place to spend the night whilst on migration. Visit at dusk and you could be in for a treat!

Garden watch

  • Many garden birds are often not looking their best at this time of year! Once the business of the breeding season is over, birds take time to moult and change their feathers. Whilst moulting your garden robin or blackbird may well be shying away from the limelight whilst it’s not looking it’s best!

On your walks...

  • Now the breeding is season is over and done with (to huge relief to parent birds!), lots of species gather together in large feeding flocks many of which will be this summer’s young. Long-tailed tits, blue tits and great tits will also be joined by migrating warblers such as chiffchaffs and willow warblers who take advantage of the safety of a large flock and feed in preparation for a long migration.

Insects

  • Hot late summer weather can often lead to insects taking advantage and dispersing to discover new areas of habitat. Butterfly species such as the Painted Lady and Red Admiral are well-known wanderers and can arrive in big numbers late summer.
  • If you live in the south look out for a new moth on the block! The Jersey Tiger. This striking black and white moth with its bright red underwings fly during the day and regularly feed on garden plants such as buddleia. They are spreading fast throughout the UK and there’s even a colony in central London!
  • Hot and humid afternoons can prompt a mass emergence of flying ants.

Mammals

  • Red, Fallow and Sika Deer finish growing their antlers late summer so if you’re lucky enough to spot one (very tricky whilst there’s lots of vegetation to hide in!) then antlers will be in impressively pristine condition!
  • As black berries ripen look out for small mammals such as wood mice and bank voles venturing up the tangle of spiny stems to enjoy the sweet fruits! You may see something rare such as Water Vole (as pictured in Nature’s Home Autumn issue).
Fallow deer stag

Flowers

  • Head to your nearest Heathland for some Purple Haze as late summer is when the heather is in full bloom (but please be mindful that this kind of habitat is particularly dry and vulnerable to fires). There are just four species of heather in the UK. Ling, Bell, cross-leaved and the rarest, Dorset Heath which is only found in Dorset (surprise!).
  • Rowan berries are one of the first to ripen and be enjoyed by birds such as Mistle thrush which gather in small flocks in August looking for food.
  • Although not a native, buddleia flowers attract a mass of insects during late summer and it’s particularly attractive to butterflies hence its nickname, the Butterfly Bush. Look of for Red Admirals and maybe a painted lady. It’s also worth heading out at night to look just after dusk as moths are also attracted to the flowers.
Painted lady Vanessa Carduip, feeding on buddleia

This month you're asking...

Where to find advice on some of the most asked about topics this month:

Baby birds

Cutting hedges

Gulls coming into conflict with us