Nature Notes August 2020

Total monthly rainfall: 71.2 millimetres. Maximum daily rainfall: 26 mllimetres (17th August). During the month there were 11 days with 100% cloud-cover for at least part of the day, and from 11th August onwards there were 13 days when rain fell. Woodland pond levels, however, remained very low throughout the month. Maximum temperature on the hottest day was 35°C on August 7th, and the six days between the 7th and 12th had temperatures at or above 32°C. Maximum temperature on the coldest day was 16°C on August 29th during a spell of 5 days when the maximum temperature fell below 20°C.


There being no more new wildflower species in bloom this month, our total remains at 64 for the year. Our wildflower management for the month involved topping thistles each week as they neared seeding, removing bristly oxtongue at the same stage, and, towards the end of the month, pulling up ragwort.

The main beneficiaries of our wildflowers apart from bees are the butterflies and moths that visit us every year. This month, the only new butterfly species to appear was a clouded yellow for one day only in our wildflower meadow on the 16th. This brings our species total to 21 so far.

New moth species fared somewhat better, despite some challenging wet and windy spells. The month got off to a good start with a shaded broad-bar moth on lakeside rushes, and a ghost swift moth indoors to our bathroom light on the 2nd. On the 10th we had a dingy footman and a common wainscot species in the same bathroom. On August 19th we discovered 24 buff-tip moth caterpillars on goat willow leaves beside the lake, bringing our annual total to 33 for the year to date.

There was only one dragonfly first-sighting this month – an emerald damselfly among lakeside soft rush on the 3rd. Other insects include a rare red grasshopper hiding in the wildflower meadow on the 11th. According to our internet research, this mutation apparently affects insects like the common field grasshopper, and makes them more easily visible to predators. Two days later, on August 13th, we discovered a cleverly constructed wasp nest in our garden hazel bush, but unfortunately it was severely battered by gale-force winds on the 25th, and carefully re-constructed over the next week.

No new bird-sightings occurred during the month, but 18 canada geese dropped in briefly on the 6th, 53 on the 13th, and the original 5 by themselves on the 22nd. Best news of all was that 5 swallows fledged onto the telephone line on the 27th, after which the first batch of swallows migrated on their journey south, leaving the younger birds behind to build up strength before their journey in September.

With strong overnight winds on the 5th we awoke to find many unripe acorns on the ground. Elderberries were ripe on the 9th, although they were rather small in size due to the previous low rainfall. On the 20th some of the earlier haws and rose-hips were ripe, and we had our first picking of

reasonable quantities of ripe blackberries. Next day on the 21st we found the first ripe sloes of summer. Finally, on the 29th, a third of our conker crop was on the ground following another night of strong winds.                                                                                                                                   

Tree and shrub progress towards autumn colours became very noticeable by August 11th, when some hornbeam and silver birch trees showed considerable yellow tinting, and poplar leaves turned yellow on the 12th. By the 15th, the hot dry weather caused leaves to drop from hazel, hornbeam, poplar, silver birch, and hawthorn. By the 25th, after wind and rain, virtually all tinted leaves were on the woodland floor, leaving the woods looking summer-green again.