Author: Sharon Barker, Flatford Wildlife Garden

Now that we’re well into August, the spotlight at the wildlife garden has subtly moved away from the birds and towards the bees and butterflies as they make the most of the current wave of flowers on display. However, our butterflies have put in a late showing this year, probably due to the dull, wet weather at the start of the season, and they are not so plentiful now as we would hope. This is all the more reason to consider increasing the butterfly friendly planting for next year. Any help we can give is a must. Particularly busy at the moment are the lavenders, the origanum laevigatum, and the pretty annual cosmos flowers that give and give right through to late autumn so long as they are dead-headed regularly. The nasturtium leaves are providing a food source for caterpillars, whilst the flowers are attracting the bumble bees.

Apart from the buzzing of the bees, it’s gone very quiet in the garden. Where have the birds disappeared to? The melodious singing of the blackbird is missing and even the cheerful chattering of the sparrows in the bushes down near the river is softly subdued. The bedraggled appearance of the now slightly less frequent visitors to the bird feeders provides a clue. The birds are going through their annual moult. Their feathers are worn out and need replacing before the season changes, and this process is energy consuming and leaves them more vulnerable to predators than usual, so it pays them to hide away quietly in bushes and thickets and not draw too much attention to themselves for a while. They will still benefit from well-stocked feeders, sunflower hearts are always a favourite, and topped-up water supplies though, so don’t forget them! If we’re lucky enough to have more hot weather, we can also help by allowing the lawn to grow a little longer. This will protect the habitat of many small creatures, in turn supporting those higher up in the food chain, such as the birds.

For now though, let’s all be sure to take a little time out to enjoy all the wild activity around us, whether it be in a garden at home, a park, or along the way as we ramble on a country holiday.   Summer is a fantastic time to enjoy nature and to make plans for how we can encourage and protect it in our gardens!  

Visit us at the RSPB’s only dedicated wildlife garden at Flatford, Suffolk or check out for more ideas on how to look after your garden wildlife.