Is it really mid August already? Time is flying by this summer, so much so that it seems almost unbelievable to think that most of our swifts have already gone and many other species are heading south too. It does feel a bit more like summer now with the warmer temperatures finally prompting butterflies to get on the wing and the buzz of bees around most flowerbeds.
So what should you look out for before summer fades into autumn? Peacock and red admiral butterflies are among the showiest of our summer flying species and in recent days they have been much easier to find, keep an eye on any nearby ivy for the second wave of holly blues which should be on the wing now. Dragonflies should be easy to spot patrolling the glades and banksides, look out for the hefty brown hawkers with their amber tinged wings and the equally substantial southern hawkers.
Many froglets will have already left the safety of the pond and made their way into the garden, take care when strimming long grass as this could be full of froglets! You may start to find them in damp corners of the garden as well as in plant pots, greenhouses and sheds! Now is a good time to do any pond maintenance that might need doing such as thinning plants, removing dead material and moving bits around. It's also a good time to do a bit of exploratory pond dipping to see what's in there!
Hedgehog seem to be very active at the moment, young ones are out and about, have a listen after dark in your garden to see if you can hear them. If you want to do your bit to help our prickly slug hunters then try to think like a hedgehog, is there a safe place to sleep in the garden, can I get from one garden to the next easily, are these slugs safe to eat??? Helping hedgehogs is simple, provide them with a hedghoig house, cut some small gaps in the bottom of fences to allow them to move and don't use harmful slug killers. Find out more via Homes for Wildlife.
As migration is hotting up and many species are on the move, it's a great time to get some good encounters with species you might not see too often. If you get along to a reservoir or lake near you, keep an eye on the shore line or any rocky out crops or grassy banks, you may find that some passage wheatear or yellow wagtails are stopping off to feed. You will also chance upon some migrant wading birds like green sandpiper and ruff. Find an RSPB reserve near you with our reserve guide.
Tom Marshall (rspb-images.com)
As for garden birds, well the time between late summer and autumn is the time of change for them and spotting many species in gardens can be tricky. However, a walk through farmland or along hedgerows might be worthwhile as many of them are forming big roving flocks - goldfinches, mistle thrush and linnets in open country and in wooded areas mixed flocks of tits, warblers, crests, treecreepers and nuthatches can be seen if you cover the ground.