As I write this update as a guide to what wildlife to look out for in August, any mention of wildlife coping with the heat seems unnecessary as it seems that the best of our weather came during the lockdown period – with summer so far failing to impress. However, even if the weather isn’t ideal for BBQs or wild swimming, there is still much to celebrate in the natural world.
Young birds abound and species such as sparrows and starlings may still be spotted tending young in their nests. Whilst August sees the departure of most of our swifts for another year they can still be spotted, especially birds which may have been resident further north now passing through. The majority of migrant birds are thankfully with us for a while yet and our Idle Valley Nature Reserve near Retford is one of the best places to see them in the county.
Young house martins will be being coaxed to leave the nest by their parents, to ensure they have time to hone their flying and hunting skills ahead of their testing journey south.
A real delight at this time of year is the sight of large flocks of swallows and martins over fields or water bodies and as evening arrives they may be replaced by bats also eager to make the most of the insect glut our summer provides.
Whilst some insects that thrive in summer are not too popular with humans, dragonflies and damselflies add a real exotic touch of colour at a time when much in nature can begin to appear ‘washed out’ with verdant vegetation yellowing in the heat and many birds looking drab as they undergo their moult.
Some of our favoured garden birds may look rather forlorn at this time of year and one way to cheer them up is to ensure they have access to a fresh supply of water as some natural sources can be hard to come by.
In our parks, hedgerows and woodland August is a good time to try your hand at tree identification as the distinctive winged seeds of species such as sycamore, field maple and large-leaved lime will already be taking shape.
Make your life a little wilder with a visit to Idle Valley Nature Reserve
There’s no getting away from the fact that the past few months have been challenging for everyone, including the team at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. The need to keep staff and volunteers safe and the decision to furlough staff to safeguard jobs and funding have all been difficult and have also delayed the reopening of our facilities at Idle Valley. However, the nature reserve has remained open for visitors throughout, as a place where people can connect with nature, and remains open today.
We’re working to reopen the facilities as soon as we can, but in the meantime you can still head over for a family walks, a spot of wildlife watching or a picnic at this stunning riverside nature reserve – especially if you live close by?
For further details about the reserve and a current update on facilities available visit www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/idle-valley.
Images © Lynne Dermaine, Tim Sexton, Matt Morris