During the breeding season, each pair of house martins may have up to three broods, which remain close to the nest site after fledging. These juveniles will remain close to the nest site after taking flight, where they often continue to roost in the nest for several weeks. August is a great time to watch these wonderful birds as they gather into pre-migratory groups and prepare to follow their parents back to their wintering grounds.
Nature's Calendar: August
House martins, hobbies and heather - take a look at just some of the wildlife you could see this August!
Fast and fleeting, these kestrel-sized birds are reminiscent of a giant swift with their long, pointed wings. They are mostly easily seen over heathland and woodland where insects, one of their preferred sources of food, are most abundant. Hobbies are well known for their aerial talents and can even catch dragonflies in-flight. So far, these impressive birds have been spotted at RSPB reserves such as Arne, The Lodge, Minsmere and Lakenheath Fen.
The green woodpecker is the UK’s largest woodpecker, and is easy to tell apart from our two other native species thanks to its striking green colouring. They are largely ground feeders, looking for bugs and grubs to eat – they are particularly fond of ants and use their bill to break into their colonies. Look out for them in short grassland habitats, parks and gardens, and listen out for their unique ‘yaffle’ flight call.
Heather’s tiny flowers will begin to appear in mid-to-late August, turning bogs, heathlands and moorlands into a beautiful sea of colour. As well as being pretty, it’s also incredibly beneficial for our native wildlife. It provides a safe space for ground-nesting birds throughout the breeding season, as well as an important source of nectar for insects when it comes into bloom.
Top 5 reserves to visit this month...
Meet the reptiles
How well do you know your snakes?
The UK has three native species of snake that you may encounter this summer.
The largest, and most common, is the grass snake. Grass snakes can grow up to 150cm in length with dark markings down their sides, a yellow and black ‘collar’, and are generally greenish in colour. They are can be found in a variety of habitats, but are most common in wetlands and grasslands, as well as gardens – they may even lay their eggs in garden compost heaps.
Adders, our only venomous species, are smaller in size at around 70-80cm in length. Their most distinct features are the zig-zag pattern that runs along their back and red eyes with narrow pupils, which help separate them from grass snakes. Males are generally grey in colour, whilst females tend to be a paler reddish-brown.
Smooth snakes are our smallest and rarest species of snake, and are generally only found in heathland habitats. They can look similar to adders, but their makings are usually less well-defined, and their pupils are rounded.
The rest of the reptiles
As well as snakes, the UK has three other native species of reptile. Slow worms may look like snakes, but are actually legless lizards who can shed their tails and even blink with their eyelids! Up to 50cm in length, they are also much smaller than our native snakes, and are golden-grey all over. They can also be found in a variety of habitats, from mature gardens and grasslands to heathland and woodland edges.
The UK is also home to common lizards and sand lizards. Common lizards are the most abundant of the two, and can be found in heathlands, moorlands, woodlands and grasslands – so look out for them basking on a sunny rock or tree stump! Sand lizards are unfortunately restricted to heathlands and sandy habitats in the South of England, Wales and Lancashire.
Did you know? All six of our native reptiles can be seen at our Arne nature reserve.