What reminds you of summer?
Lorienne Whittle, 15/07/2019
June 2019 was an odd month weather wise. Here in the Woodland Trust HQ home county of Lincolnshire we had around two and a half times the monthly average rainfall in just a few days! The Met Office also reported that much of June had lower than average temperature and hours of sunshine in many parts of the UK. Finally, at the end of the month, it felt like summer had arrived with the hottest day of the year so far.
Nature’s Calendar has been tracking how wildlife has reacted.
June downpours result in unique bird spotting opportunities
The pretty turtle dove is a high conservation priority having suffered widespread and rapid decline across its range. Its gentle cooing is a sign of summer for those in the south and east of England, where it returns to breed. Turtle doves are one of our least recorded species, with just 100 records from the last four years.
One Nature’s Calendar recorder got an unusual opportunity to record a turtle dove thanks to the rain in June. This is what our recorder in Lewes, East Sussex said:
‘‘This morning. It was somewhat hunched on the window sill of my bedroom sheltering from wind and rain. I could only see its light brown back with black spots and grey head. It was the size of a pigeon. I stood within arm’s length of it for several minutes.’’
It also goes to show how you can watch and record wildlife from anywhere, even the comfort of your own home.
The continuous rain in the middle of June meant I got less opportunity to spot and record anything on Nature’s Calendar. During a brief dry spell, I ventured out to check on a dog rose that I’d spotted nearing ‘first flowering’. I wasn’t the only one making the most of a pause in the rain. I got a wonderful view of a barn owl gliding back and forth over the long grass on the other side of the hedgerow. Barn owls usually hunt at dusk and dawn and I rarely catch a glimpse of them. I can only imagine that it was tricky to hunt amid the deluge, so this owl making the unusual move to come out midday. You never know what you might spot whilst out and about. The dog rose was ready to record too!
Elderflower and dog roses
The smell and sight of elderflower is something I always associate with the beginning of summer.
Whether, like me, you eagerly keep look out for the mass of pretty white flowers to pick for vinegar, cordial or champagne. Or simply to admire and record on Nature’s Calendar, elder is a great species to look out for. Thank you to everyone who has submitted elder records.
Keep a watch on the same elder for events later in the season. We want to hear about first ripe fruit, first and full autumn tinting, leaves falling and when the elder is completely bare.
For a recorder in Gloucestershire it’s the sight of oxeye daisies that reminds them of June and summertime:
‘‘Absolutely love these garden-lawn-daisies-on-steroids (!) -- they grow in a patch of tall grass in full sunlight just east of the ponds/reserve, and bring a real touch of June whenever I see them.’’
Our expected date range to see red admirals for the first time is between early March and late June. Looking at the spread of observations this year, we had a significant number of early records (insects react to a mild and sunny February) with relatively few first seen records through April and May. Despite the widespread rain, we’ve had 27 records in June and the two wonderful photos sent in.
What else to look out for over summer?
Whilst July is a quiet period for Nature’s Calendar, with fewer events to record than other months, there’s still plenty to look out for and record over late summer. The blackberries that adorn spiky brambles turn from green, to red and finally black or dark purple over the summer. They are ready to record when they are soft to touch. The first ripe fruit will be ready to record for many trees as well as ivy first flowering. Keep an eye on the skies for when swifts are no longer seen as they head off to Africa, usually around the end of July. Look down low for the mystical fly agaric fungi’s first appearance from early August.
Our phenology calendar is a reminder of which events are coming up at any time of the year.