To us it may feel as summer is 'in full swing' during 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, one of the best locations for Broad-leaved Helleborine in Leicestershire and Rutland is the Trust’s Great Merrible Wood. But it can be difficult 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.
Species of the month: Wood Sandpipesr
The wood sandpiper is seen in our two counties as a passage migrant between Its breeding ground in Northern Europe and wintering in Africa. September is the peak migration for juveniles.
Look out for them on the Trust’s wetland nature reserves such as Rutland Water and listen for its most common call, chiff-iff-iff.
An elegant medium-sized (19-21cm) wading bird, it has a fine straight bill, a conspicuous long creamy white stripe from the bill over the eye to the back of the neck and yellowish legs. In flight, it shows a square white rump and barred tail but no wing bars.
Juveniles resemble adults but with a mottled breast and buff spots on the back rather than chequered brown and white.
Photograph: Wood Sandpiper (Ian Jones)