It’s August, the hay is gone, the volunteers are taking a break so what is happening on the meadow?
Well, there are a lot of pink and purple flowers going on. Some are hard to miss and some will take a more careful look. Some are in this gallery, but there are plenty more!
There are lots of chirruping insects about, mostly in the long grass and other plants on banks and around hedges. The differences can be a bit complicated, but the basics are: very long antennae = bush cricket, short antennae = grasshopper.
There are lots of butterflies around. Lots of them are gatekeepers, who like to behave as their name describes and hang around at the gaps in hedges, often in big groups. Only a very few of them are small coppers, but the very bright orange of their upper-wings will help you catch sight of them. And if you’re very good at butterfly spotting, and also very lucky, you might spot a brown hairstreak. The one pictured was taken this August at Silk Mills and was pointed out, otherwise I never would have spotted it at the top of the tree.
It is aphid season again at the willow cathedral and they do seem to be having a bumper year. You’ll need to look up to the younger branches, but it shouldn’t take long to find a clump of dark grey blobs of various sizes. The photo of one of the clumps actually has two kinds of aphid in it, the giant willow aphid and just two black willow bark aphids. These ones are darker, but with bright orange points on their back, and no shark fin!
From small things and things high up in trees, we’ll go on to mimics: things pretending to be other things. Here are two flies and a sawfly, trying to convince everyone that they are a hornet, a bumblebee and a wasp. Apart from the hornet mimic, which is one of the largest hoverflies in the UK, I can’t be very sure about the IDs, but I’ve had a go!
If you’ve seen all those, have ten points and a bonus challenge: find something you’ve never seen before. If you manage this one, let us know! You can share any sightings with us on Facebook, Instagram or twitter.
The volunteers will be getting back to work in September, planning the hedgelaying for the autumn and winter and another project TBA.