Woodland Highlights: July

Lime leaves

The longest day has come and gone and the days will be shortening. July was once a great month for invertebrates, but recent wet, cold summers have caused them serious problems and their numbers have suffered.

Trees/shrubs… Lime trees produce small, sweetly scented white flowers. Their intoxicating perfume is especially enticing for bees, who can apparently fall to the floor stunned by the aroma. Introduced sweet chestnut trees put forth long pale-yellow catkins this month. In autumn their fruit will ripen into delicious chestnuts.

Wild teasel

Plants… The spiky flowers of wood sage bloom from now until September, giving off a slightly aromatic scent. In open woods containing heathland, heather can be found putting forth their delicate bell-shaped flowers. Hemp-agrimony, giant bellflower, common hemp-nettle and wild teasel can also be found blossoming in woodland.

Fungi… Chicken of the Woods (aka sulphur polypore) is a large, vibrantly yellow fungus. It is edible and tasty when young, before it hardens and becomes woody with age. It is easily identifiable so makes it safe to forage for. It grows in a semi-circular form around tree trunks and stumps, often on yew, cherry wood, sweet chestnut, and willow.

Birds… The main breeding season is now over, but in good years some birds (such as long-tailed tits, spotted flycatchers and blackbirds) can raise a second brood between July and August. Cuckoos are among the first birds to leave our shores. The adults start to make the long migration back to Africa this month. Their offspring will follow later, even without a guide they amazingly know exactly where to go.

Red squirrel

Mammals… Hazel dormice give birth between July and August, usually to three to five young. The race is now on for the offspring to fatten up enough to survive winter hibernation. Hazel dormice can give birth to a second litter in September, but these usually do not survive as they do not have enough time to build up their fat reserves. Red squirrels breed from January to September, larger females can have up to two litters of kittens in a year. When the females come into season, for a day, the males madly chase them through the trees trying to mate with them.

Great crested newt

Amphibians… Great crested newt adults finish laying their eggs and start to leave their ponds; living on land until they start their hibernation in September. The last froglets and toadlets will finish metamorphosising this month. Leaving the relative safety of their ponds, they will seek shelter and hide from predators.

Insects… The numbers of moths and butterflies has been particularly low during April, May and June this year. Let us hope July brings more clement weather for them. Butterflies you should be seeing this month include purple hairstreak and black hairstreak, purple emperor, and white admiral.

Our VisitWoods website can help you locate many stunning woods in your area and across the UK. You can also record all your amazing finds on our Nature’s Calendar website.

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About Kay Haw

Assistant Conservation Adviser, Woodland Trust. Nature is my passion, especially woods and trees which are just amazing elements of life. One day (soon) I hope we humans learn to work in harmony with Mother Earth.
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16 Responses to Woodland Highlights: July

  1. Pingback: July Woodland Highlights from the Woodland Trust - Birmingham Open Spaces Forum

  2. Pingback: Wood Yew believe it? 10 Amazing Tree-related Facts | Coffee Grounds to Ground

  3. Ken Doerr says:

    After 5 years of normal frogspawn to frogs in a tiny pond in my garden we are now looking at a third straight year where the tadpoles don’t get beyond their tadpole stage! They are still swimming around when the first ice arrives but perish soon after. The pond is a man-made in-ground plastic sump around 1m sq and 500mm in the middle. The water is gin clear and has yellow iris growing in sunken pots, plus the usual suspects in a ‘natural’ pond – no pumps, filters etc.

    The only difference this year is that there are quite a few froglets in the garden – though no other bodies of water are close by and the garden is walled. I doubt they have come from my pond as we look every day and all the tadpoles are big but with, at best, vestigial legs of no merit.

    I’ve tried to find info on this issue on the web but without success. Is anyone else aware of this phenomenon?

    • Kay Haw says:

      That is very distressing. I do not know the answer, but you could try contacting the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust http://www.arc-trust.org, and Pond Conservation http://www.pondconservation.org.uk. They may be able to offer you help and advice. I hope you resolve the problem!

      • kendee says:

        The Arc Trust had the ‘obvious’ answer on the FAQ’s. The pond is under an Arbor/Pergola with pleached Silver Pear trees. They have abviously grown so much and caused, in the last three years, to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the pond by a significant amount.

        I still have tadpoles late in the the year (into autumn), is this normal?

        Tadpoles / larvae usually develop into young amphibians and leave the pond during the summer months, but occasionally you might still see them in the pond throughout autumn and winter. These ‘overwintering’ tadpoles complete their development the following spring. There could be several reasons for this slow development:

        The pond may be so crowded that the tadpoles are short of food.
        The pond may be too cold, due to a shaded location or steep-sided construction.

        Crowding is likely to resolve itself over time. If the pond is shaded, consider cutting back some of the overhanging vegetation to increase the amount of light and warmth reaching the surface of the water.

        At this stage, do not attempt to help these ‘slow-growers’ by providing extra food or taking them out of the pond – you could end up with them completing their development in the middle of winter when there is no food around to support them. They will be fine in the pond until next spring

  4. mike karswick says:

    …today, too basswood’s leaves hubrissed with a thud at pickerel weed and lily…in mud…( from a toad’s diary)…

  5. Helen Ap-Rhisiart says:

    We have sulphur polypore fungus on a large old bird cherry in our garden. It grows every year. Have seen a number of ringlet butterflies recently but not much else since the orange-tips earlier in the year.

    • Kay Haw says:

      Thanks for your comment. Yes UK butterflies have not had a good summer up until now. Hopefully we will see some sunshine to boost their survival/reproduction chances.

  6. Shona Morton says:

    Saw some lovely Chicken of the Woods in Hackfall, gowiing on an old cherry tree. Sadly too rubbery for the frying pan! Will upload some pics to VisitWoods later this week :o)

  7. Great post. I have never seen Wild teasel. this is so nice.

  8. Well, after the very cold winter, followed by a record lack of rainfall over the spring months, mid June and summer finally arrived along with the rain. And now in late July the rain hasn’t stopped for more than a day or so since, leaving the woods rather damp underfoot and not very welcoming for butterflies.

    • Kay Haw says:

      Indeed this is a worrying time for our fluttery friends. Hopefully the summer sun will shine through at some point to allow breeding and feeding for all the important insects/pollinators across the UK.

  9. Pingback: Agrimony (Hemp) | Find Me A Cure

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