August is one of the best times of the year to see wildlife, to briefly put on one side (but not forget) the problems and politics of providing for it. This is because there are more insects, birds and animals around now than at any other time of the year.
Youngsters that have survived their first few months are busy learning to cope with their world, and building their reserves ahead of winter. Many will not make it to spring, but large numbers now are nature’s way of ensuring that their species thrives and survives. Town and country are hosting increased numbers of fish, fowl and frogs, small animals such as hedgehogs, rabbits and squirrels, and larger beasts like otters, deer and badgers.
In the bird world second, and even third, broods of small birds are being raised, earlier arrivals often helping their parents with the latecomers. Species such as long-tailed tits, which live as families in the spring and summer, will soon be gathering into winter feeding flocks. Migrating species are now starting their comings and goings. By the end of the month early arrivals for the winter will be overlapping with those about to leave to enjoy another summer in Africa.
If you feed birds in your garden you will see a noticeable increase in numbers on the nuts and seeds. Blue and great tits, goldfinches, chaffinches and sparrows will be squabbling for the tastiest fare. Songbirds like robins, thrushes and blackbirds, having been quiet whilst raising their young, will begin singing again. This is when the young birds begin to learn and practice those songs.
Insects too of course are at their most abundant. Wasp numbers are especially high as anyone picnicking will know. They love over-ripe fruit as well as jam sandwiches and sugary drinks (they are all the same to them) but perhaps we should indulge them, because they do a tremendous amount of good in the garden. Like some birds there are butterflies which have two or three broods, and some are now overlapping, boosting numbers.
We talk a lot about the benefits of our parks and greenspaces to people. Unless they have the label ‘nature reserve’ it is easy to overlook that they are also vital to the wellbeing of our wildlife. This time of the year we can see that the benefits are mutual.