Nature Notes August 2018

Total monthly rainfall was 65.5 mm with a maximum daily rainfall of 14 mm on August 10. Rain fell on 11 days during the month, and there were 15 days with 100% cloud cover. Maximum temperature on the warmest day was 31°C (3rd August). Maximum temperature on the coldest day was 17°C on the 26th. Temperatures exceeded 27°C for the first 7 days of the month. Strong gusts of wind on the 10th brought down twigs and clusters of green leaves, together with some dead branches in the wood.


August is often a month of few first-sightings and this was no exception. We only spotted two new flowering plants, water mint which we realised were already out by the 1st, and red bartsia on the 8th, bringing our wildflower count to 72 species for the year.

There were no new butterfly species this month, so it is looking unlikely that we will now see the clouded yellow. There were, however, 5 new moth species, starting with a red underwing on a shed wall on the 2nd. Our grand-daughter Isabel brought us a vapourer moth caterpillar on a rose-leaf on the 8th, and we saw a twin-spot carpet moth among field grasses on the 16th. A lime-speck pug moth appeared to light in our bathroom on the 18th (identified with thanks by Keith Palmer, from our photograph). On the 24th a snout moth among field grasses alongside woodland completed our sightings for the month, and brought the species-count to 40 for the year so far.

Our dragonfly count for this year rose to 20 species when a pair of willow emerald damselflies oviposited into a young bank-side willow shrub during late sunshine on the 31st. Although we have recorded the willow emerald here before, this was the first time we have seen a male and female
egg-laying in tandem at the lake, the previous lone damselfly being recorded at the back woodland pond in 2013.

During much of the summer, our reptile shelters have yielded little more than large numbers of ants, plus recently the occasional slug. On the 18th we came across a large leopard slug, which we left because it was a long way from the vegetable garden, while on the 25th we came across our first slow-worm accompanied by a grass snake.

On August 21st we found three parasol mushrooms at the back of the woodland, and some common funnel fungi were growing near the lake on the 27th.

We also had a brief rare sighting of a black American mink near our back woodland pond on the 29th which ran from the pond edge into some nearby brambles, and was gone within about 5 seconds!

We finish this month’s sightings with some early autumn fruiting: ripe elderberries (1st), ripe sloes (17th), ripe hawthorn berries (27th), and, finally, ripe dog rose-hips on the 28th.