By s.fenn • 25th July 2022
August is a great month for being outdoors, so whether you’re barbecuing, sunbathing or going for a walk, here are five kinds of wildlife worth looking out for.
August is the last month of the year that you can watch the aerial acrobatics of one of the world’s fastest birds, so make the most of it! Swifts (Apus apus) come to Britain to breed; by the end of summer their chicks have fledged and they leave our shores to begin the long journey back to Africa.
Listen out for their screaming calls, lie on your back and watch them soaring high in the sky, or head to rivers and pools to see them swooping to catch insects at the water’s surface.
Learn more by attending one of our bird courses
Although mushrooms and toadstools are most abundant in autumn, many species start to emerge in August. You could go searching in birch woods for the distinctive red and white fly agaric (Amanita muscaria), look under pine trees for the brain-like cauliflower fungus (Sparassis crispa), or hunt for giant puffballs (Calvatia gigantea) in grasslands.
If you’d like to learn more about fungi, you can check out our Identification Chart or try one of our courses!
Hawkers are a family of large fast-flying dragonflies, which are well worth looking out for in August. Although, as with all dragonflies, they breed and live part of their life cycle in water, they fly long distances to hunt for prey. This means that you’re as likely to come across them in a garden or park as you are by a river.
One species in particular to keep an eye out for is the Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea), with its long body (up to 70mm) and bright green markings. These dragonflies are very inquisitive so they might end up watching you as well!
If you want to have a go at identifying dragonflies, we have a beginner’s guide for sale here
Brambles (Rubus fruticosus) are great for wildlife; the thorny bushes they create provide shelter for nesting birds and their flowers provide a valuable nectar source for bees and other insects. In August they also start to provide for humans, in the form of blackberries.
Nothing says late summer like staining your fingers and lips with the juice of freshly-picked blackberries. The berries at the end of bramble stalks ripen first, so they taste the sweetest and are worth eating before anyone else does!
The 27th-28th of August is International Bat Night, but you don’t have to wait until then to enjoy the aerial antics of the world’s only flying mammals! Dawn and dusk are the best times to see them, as they twist and turn in pursuit of moths and other insects. Bats often hunt in circuits, so if you see one fly past you, keep watching the same spot and it will probably come round again.
If you can get hold of a bat detector, it will allow you to clearly hear the ‘clicks’ bats produce when they echolocate, and you can also use it to identify the species. Our bats guide contains information for identifying all of the British species using detectors.
Which wildlife are you looking forward to seeing this August?
Written by Fiona Boyle
Youth Council Member 2022