August should be a time for woodland wildlife to feast on ripening fruit and nuts. Will the last month of summer bring the sunshine much of our wildlife now needs and deserves?
Trees/shrubs… The winged seeds of large-leaved lime, field maple and hornbeam are growing and maturing in August. Some trees may also start to change colour in repsonse to environmental stimuli, although it is a little early for most. Haws, sloes and rose hip berries are gradually ripening, these will offer a much needed food source for wildlife during the winter months. But the elderberries are now ripe and offer immediate sustenance. Bilberry fruit are also ripe , these low growing shrubs can be found in woods containing areas of heathland.
Plants… Sowbread is a naturalised escape, from parks and gardens, that can be found flowering this month in woodland. It has light pink petals and dark, green heart-shaped leaves. Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that also flowers in August. It can be found along woodland and riverine edges. It is an aggressive weed that causes serious problems for native plants and habitats. It is an offence to plant or otherwise cause it to grow in the wild.
Fungi… The impressive giant puffball is one to look out for in scrub and woodland edges this month. It is one of the largest fungal fruiting bodies in the UK. When young it is edible. But the white flesh soon darkens and spores develop inside. When mature the puffball’s outersurface will break and spores will be released by physical contact, such as rain or a persons touch.
Birds… Many birds start their autumn migration. Robins should start singing their autumn song later this month.
Mammals… The pine marten mating season is July/August. But the female delays fertilisation of the eggs and the young will not be born until early spring next year. Sadly pine martens are extinct throughout much of England, they are mainly found in the Scottish Highlands and Grampian, with a small number in northern England and Wales. August brings fruit, berries and green hazelnuts for dormice to fatten up on. They need to build up enough fat reserves to survive their winter hibernation
Reptiles… Adders give birth to between eight and thirteen offspring at the end of August or early September. The females only reproduce once every two years. The young adders will not eat until the following spring, this year they will live on the yolk sac and fat reserves they are born with.
Insects… Hot August days are good times to hear and spot grasshoppers. In the south of England and Wales the woodland grasshopper can be found. But other grasshopper species can also be found in open grassy glades within woodland. Their calls are created by rubbing their long hind legs against their wings (this is called stridulation), they do this to attract a mate and lay claim to a territory. Gatekeeper butterflies may be on the wing if warm and dry, these attractive orange and brown butterflies can be found around hedgerows.
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 and be part of a great citizen science movement.