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Wildlife Calendar - August

WILDLIFE CALENDAR - AUGUST

In August, nothing can be nicer than relaxing beside a summer meadow – a kaleidoscope of colour that’s buzzing with life. By reducing the mowing regime for a small area of lawn, you can create your own “Pocket Meadow” - You may be lucky enough to have some native species already present in the lawn and ready to burst forth, then other meadow flowers such as ox-eye daisy, field scabious, yellow rattle and lady’s bedstraw may be grown or purchased as plug plants to supplement the colourful show.

Late summer butterflies including Red admiral, Painted lady, Peacock and Gatekeeper will feast on the nectar of garden flowers such as Sedum, Verbena, Echinacea and Buddleia, which can be dead headed to prolong the flowering time. Butterflies are joined in your perennial border by bumble bees and hoverflies. Providing the nectar sources they love including lavender and marigolds, they will return the favour by controlling the insect pests in your garden. Ladybirds join the army, fighting the growing numbers of aphids – each adult can consume about 5000 aphids, and their black, wingless larvae will also tuck in.

From beneath the ground, emerge large numbers of flying black ants – these are the new queens and males of the species, who are taking to the wing to establish new colonies elsewhere. Once mated, the role of the males is over and the queens shed their wings. Although they may be annoying, they benefit the garden by improving soil quality through their tunnelling, and encourage birds to the garden who take part in a feeding frenzy.

This month says farewell to Swallows and House Martins, who get ready for the long journey back to Africa by lining up on telephone wires and looking like bunting above the streets! They will need to take on as much nourishment as they can, and the summer swarms of flies above gardens and lakes are ideal for this. Garden birds such as Blackbirds, Dunnocks and Robins are fledging in smaller numbers now, but are grateful for high energy suet and mixed seed in feeders to supplement their natural fare of insects and worms. Above all, ensure that bird baths and ponds are kept topped up with water, especially during long, dry spells.

If you have a newly established wildflower meadow, you will need to cut it at this time of year to reduce perennial weeds, and give smaller, meadow flowers a chance. Leave the cuttings for a day or two to ensure insects have escaped and then remove to keep fertility low. Established meadows can be left a little later in the year until they set seed – the seed can be gathered and passed on to friends and family to encourage them to grow a pocket meadows too! By leaving some of the seed heads and rose hips, you will also be encouraging birds such as Goldfinches and Siskins to the free feast.

Male Siskin Male Siskin

The growing families of mammals such as Woodmice, Voles, Shrews, Foxes and Badgers will be out and about and may be watched from your house. Providing special badger and fox food will encourage them to visit and help them raise their young. Hedgehogs can be encouraged to stay in your garden by providing food and hedgehog homes. Make sure you provide plenty of access to your garden by leaving gaps in hedges, fences and gates as all these mammals cover large distances in their foraging.