We can’t quite believe it’s August already. It feels like we’ve only just finished talking about Scotland’s fantastic summer visitors and now they’re up and leaving again! But don’t worry; there is still plenty to see this month. Here are some tips and facts from us.
What to see in Scotland this month VIII
August is one month of the year that brings a lot of change with it in Scotland. And I’m definitely not talking about the weather here, especially because no-one seems to know what’s going on with it this summer. I’m thinking about our wildlife.
Over the last few months we’ve been enjoying the company of migrant bird species that venture to our shores for summer, but the time has come for them to start leaving for warmer climes. This happens in dribs and drabs at first, but before we know it they’ll all have gone.
Whimbrels leave us from August onward and you might be lucky enough to see them stocking up on crabs and molluscs along the coast before departing. As do some more familiar birds like blackcaps, swifts, and house martins. Look out for clusters of swallows on telephone wires too.
Ospreys that come to Scotland in summer spend the winter in West Africa – a migration of around 3,500 miles. You’ve still got time to see them as they generally won’t leave for a couple of weeks yet; check out EJ and Odin at Loch Garten!
The female bird leaves first and the male stays behind to continue providing fish to their young if they have them. He will depart when the last chick has set off on migration (very attentive parenting there if you ask me). When chicks reach Africa they’ll often stay there for the first few years of their life and will return to Scotland when they’ve reached breeding age.
Another species which will be vacating our shores around now is the razorbill. They tend to leave their breeding cliffs towards the end of the summer for the sea. In this case it’s the male which leaves first, with the young leaving alongside him, while the female continues to visit the breeding site for up to several weeks before heading off too. The north and north-east of Scotland are among the best places to see seabirds, with the peak time being summer.
Razorbills are compact, sturdy creatures that belong to the auk family, are black and white in colour, and have a thick, blunt bill. In August and September, these birds go through a post-breeding moult and actually become flightless for a period.
But it’s not just birds you should be excited about this month, if you fancy a bit of an adventure with the kids, grab a net and bucket and head for the coast. Exploring rockpools is a fantastically fun activity that everyone can get involved with. Keep an eye out for barnacles, crabs, anemones, and maybe even a starfish!
Did you know that starfish can actually allow their own arms to drop off? It means they can escape if predators grab hold of them. They’re also able to regenerate the lost limb which is pretty amazing.
We’ve also heard there are good numbers of basking sharks turning up around the west coast of Scotland this month. So if you’re heading out to the Isle of Coll or Tiree anytime soon we’d definitely recommend checking out these giant beauties. If you’re a bit further afield and won’t get to see them in person, take a look at this drone footage of them that went on the Press and Journal website last week – it’s incredible.
Happy wildlife watching everyone! We’ll be back with a new blog in September.