Woodland Highlights: August

Image: Andrew Curtis

Bilberries

In 2013 we have certainly seen better summer weather than we have had for many years, since 2006 in fact, but August looks to be more unsettled than July. Let us hope this has helped the UKs dwindling populations of butterflies and other wildlife.

Trees/shrubs… In heathy woods bilberries are ripe and ready to be eaten. The winged seeds of large-leaved lime, field maple and hornbeam are growing and maturing in August. The berries of elder and bramble are growing and will soon start ripening to a black hue. Haws, sloes and rose hips are other fruits that will offer wildlife much needed sustenance once ripe. These can also be foraged by humans to make tasty wines and preserves, but do leave plenty for hungry birds.

Image: AnemoneProjectors

Fly agaric

Plants… Japanese knotweed is a non-native invasive plant that may look pretty flowering in gardens but causes havoc in the wild. New EU legislation is being devised that should help prevent and eradicate some non-native invasives from Europe and the UK, but this may take a few years to come into effect.

Fungi/lichens… Ceps or king boletes are around in many types of woodland from August to November, these tasty fungi are easily recognisable. Other fungi to watch for include common yellow russula, field mushrooms, shaggy inkcaps, truffles, beefsteak fungus and fly agarics (the fairy mushrooms).

Image: northeastwildlife.co.uk

Osprey

Birds… This month many other birds will join the cuckoo in leaving the UK for warmer climes. Chiff chaffs, ospreys, swifts, willow warblers and whitethroats are all departing, heralding the gradual end of summer and the coming of autumn. Robins will begin to sing their autumn song towards the end of the month.

Mammals… Bats will still be out in force fattening themselves on moths and other insects. Many local bat groups and nature reserves will be holding bat walks and surveys that you can get involved with. Pine martens will be mating this month but are mainly found in the Scottish Highlands and Grampian, with a small number in northern England and Wales.

Image: Donald Macauley

Marbled white butterfly

Reptiles… Female adders give birth once every two years between August and September. They are among a few reptiles that are viviparous, giving birth to live offspring that will all exhibit the same markings as the female until they mature. Sand lizard egss will begin to hatch this month, as will those of the grass snake.

Insects… Many butterflies will still be on the wing in August and the warm July will hopefully have been kind to their numbers. Watch out for brimstone, comma, dingy skipper, gatekeeper, marbled white, peacock, purple emperor, speckled wood and white admiral in and around woods and trees. This month is also a time for hundreds of flying black ants to take to the skies in search of mates and new homes.

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.

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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6 Responses to Woodland Highlights: August

  1. Pingback: Rare mushroom found in the Netherlands | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. MF says:

    Have a good number of butterflies and bees but the ladybird numbers are extremely low in my garden this year. Last year I had 100s of them and have barely had double figures this year.

  3. Louise says:

    We have had lots of lovely butterflies though

  4. Louise says:

    We live in Doncaster and we havent had any lady birds either, I work in a Woodland and havent see one this year, we usually have hoards of them

  5. Ash says:

    Here in this most north westerly region of the UK the past week has been warm & very wet. Our small garden has been filled with butterflies, mostly small whites & tortoiseshells, & bees. No ladybirds again this year.

    When the skies have not been filled with black thunder clouds, swallows & house martins have been chasing flying insects, but I haven’t seen any swifts.

    In a neighbours garden not far from here a small chestnut tree is already changing into its autumn colours. I find I am looking ahead & wondering what surprises the winter months will bring.

    • Kay Haw says:

      Thanks for this information Ash. How strange that you have not had any ladybirds. I have certainly seen quite a few in my garden and on plants at our local community garden project.
      It would be great if you want to and have time to record your sightings on our Nature’s Calendar site, http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/. Enjoy the rest of summer!

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