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.
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).
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.
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.