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  • August 2015

    Summer may feel as if it has only just begun in August so it can be a bit of a shock to realise that the autumn migration of some birds has already started.

    Numbers of birds heading south increase substantially and the Trust’s Rutland Water Nature Reserve in particular is a magnet for many waders. There is also always a chance to see birds of prey such as the Marsh Harrier and other species. Migrating birds can also regularly be seen at Cossington Meadows, Wanlip Meadows, Kelham Bridge and, sometimes, other nature reserves.

    Few people visit the woodland nature reserves in late summer, but they can have their rewards. For example, the best location for Broad-leaved Helleborine in Leicestershire and Rutland is the Trust’s Great Merrible Wood. But it can be a bit of an ordeal trying to get down to and around the reserve at this time of year! A large population of this tall orchid has also been recorded at Cloud Wood.

    The beautiful, but elusive, Purple Hairstreak butterfly is on the wing in August and occurs at several woodland nature reserves, for example Launde Big Wood, Cloud Wood and Prior’s Coppice.

    The heathland at Charnwood Lodge National Nature Reserve is a wonderful place in August – but then it is at any time of year. Late summer is when the heather flowers, families of Buzzards, Kestrels and Ravens are in the air and dragonflies hunt around the pools.

    For further details on the nature reserves mentioned go the Nature Reserves section of the website or check your Nature Reserves Guide.

     

    Photograph: There seems to be lots of small tortoiseshell butterflies around this summer despite unfavourable weather (c. Scott Petreks)

     

    Species of the month: Whinchat

    The whinchat is a small, plump and short-tailed perching bird that has a prominent white stripe above the eye. It is streaky brown above and warm orange-buff on the breast. The female is paler than the male.

    A summer visitor to this country, it is best looked for in rough pastureland, tussocky grassland, water meadows and on bracken-covered slopes.

    Sadly it no longer breeds here but can be seen in Leicestershire and Rutland as a passage migrant. Most easily spotted on the top of low bushes, whinchats feed on insects and some seeds.