Top 10 wildlife in Summer
Norfolk has some of the best wildlife in the country. Here Norfolk Wildlife Trust's David North gives us his Top 10 wildlife spectacles to look out for during the Summer....
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As those nights are getting warmer, get outside and go on a bat watch! An evening walk with a bat detector on a still night at this time of year is likely to prove successful. If you need a helping hand in getting started, investigate NWT's Bat Watch. Some to look out for include large, fast-flying noctule bats that are commonly seen near woods in the last half hour before dusk, whilst after dark, soprano and pipistrelles are common. Impressively, a single Pipistrelle Bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in one night!
Freshwater marshes provide the second wave of dragonflies reaching its peak this July. Look now for common and ruddy darters, southern and brown hawkers, and common blue damselflies. Can't tell one dragonfly from another? The NWT's Upton Fen has dragonfly walks. Don’t forget, it's important to send your records to Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service to help support your county in recording and protecting its wildlife.
If you are lucky this summer, maybe you will be able to spot this ever popular spiny mammal snuffling around in your back garden. After giving birth in June, young hoglets are beginning to follow their mother on foraging expeditions and what a journey they take. A hedgehog can travel between 1-2 km a night searching for food before returning to a daytime nest! Why not leave out some specially made dried food for hedgehogs or feed them dog or cat meat to try and tempt them?
Whilst you may have been able to hear their impressive booming calls throughout spring, early summer is now the chance to catch a glimpse of the rare bittern in the air. See if you can spot both marsh harriers and bitterns flying to their nests to feed the hungry mouths of their young. The bittern is one of the rarest breeding birds in the UK and a Red List species, most notable around the Norfolk Broads, so don't miss out in sighting this spectacular species. If you would like to support the native Bittern further, consider joining the Norfolk Wildlife Trust both as a member and as a volunteer to help with reed bed management, the bird's natural habitat.
Birdwatching in Norfolk
Hopefully this summer will see perfect picnic weather so whilst you are enjoying your sandwiches in the sun, be sure to notice dancing butterflies as they flutter before you. On warm days in Broadland reed beds, watch out for gorgeous swallowtail, Britain's biggest butterfly. Some heaths may see clouds of tiny male silver-studded blues flying low over bare patches among the heather. Or, if you were to venture into NWT Foxley wood, the elegant white admiral may just come out to play, darting through sunny glades while tiny purple hairstreaks flash around the oak canopy.
With the sun shining, nature is in full bloom. Voted the county flower for Norfolk, the common poppy with its scarlet petals is instantly recognisable and best seen in the summer months. Saltmarsh sea lavenders are also coming into flower, turning huge stretches of the north Norfolk coast a delicate purple with delicate scents. Late summer is not forgotten either as the harebell brings a splash of colour to the countryside at a time when many other flowers have finished flowering. This makes for the perfect season to get outside and appreciate the beauty that Norfolk's blooms have to offer.
Summer is a great season to be on the lookout for young frogs as they leave the pond for the first time. Before they hide away to hibernate for winter, these amphibians will be finding their feet as they hop towards damp habitats such as woodlands, hedgerows, fields and gardens where they can keep their skin moist. When the common frog is first spotted you may be unsure whether you have found a frog or a toad, but there are some very distinctive characteristics which enable you to tell them apart. Frogs have more slender bodies, smooth skin and jump or hop, whereas toads have more bulbous bodies, dry warty skin and tend to crawl; take a look.
If you're looking for something to keep the children busy whilst they are on holiday, come along to the Wildlife Watch Moth Morning at NWT Hickling Broad in which we open the moth traps from the night before. From Cinnabar and Ghost moths to a range of Hawkmoths, this is a great time of year to explore Norfolk's spectacular diversity of these insects, particularly after those warm, muggy nights. Don't forget to take part in National Moth night in August.
August sees the start of National Marine Week so what better way to celebrate than to get outside and explore the shore. NWT's Coastal Capers event at Cley Marshes should get you in the mood, with games and stories to keep the little ones entertained. Marine wildlife is as strange, beautiful, diverse and important as any on land and Norfolk provides the perfect setting to discover it, with the world's longest chalk reef just off the coast.
It is to the insects that August really belongs. Now, every patch of short grass is loud with the chirps of field grasshoppers, patches of lank grass are full of the whine of Roesel's bush-crickets, and in tangles of brambles sound the quiet chirrups of dark bush-crickets. At this time of year swarms of second-generation seven-spot ladybirds may also occur. Come along to NWT's Minibeast Hunt at Hickling Broad for the chance to forage among the foliage and search between the sedge for any minibeast which may be waiting.