August Wildlife: What to Look Out For in Nature This Month
The countryside starts to look a little untidy in August. The long grasses of July have grown heavy with seed-heads and over-estimated their strength. They flop about and fall over like unruly drunks. Buddy’s coat is full of grass seeds and sticky-willys. He likes to pull the sticky-willys from his coat with his teeth, eat them, and then do very stinky farts. Cornflies are everywhere too; annoying little moving black dots on white T Shirts.
The one thing that tidies the landscape up is the harvesting of the crops. Normally the crops begin to be harvested in August but the first stubble fields appeared in July this year. I love to see the blocks of golden fields with neat tractor tracks across them and dotted with evenly placed hay bales. The combines provide a constant background noise of activity. Often you can see the lights of the combines working late into the evening.
August is a great time to see hares as they become more visible in the freshly cut fields. They dart out across the stubble fields, startlingly fast. I always forget in between sightings just how big and majestic hares are. Buddy is 6 years old this month so he has more or less given up giving chase to the hares. He knows now that he has no chance.
The woodland floors are still covered with big soft cushions of green ferns, but the edges of their fronds are beginning to crisp up. The warm, dry summer seems to have accelerated the gradual-goldening that happens in August. The abundant greens of June and July are being replaced by sun-scorched browns and golds. It feels like the year is maturing into a more grown-up colour palette.
In the hedgerows, the fruits of the season are starting to appear: red berries and rosehips and wild raspberries. Yellowhammers are one of the few British birds who are still singing in August. According to the British Birds Rarities Committee, one yellowhammer was recorded singing 3,482 songs in one day. I think this must be because the yellowhammers know that August is when they match the colour palette of the countryside the best. Their golden yellow chests glint in the sunshine in perfect accord with the barley fields. That would make me sing too.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival happens in August every year. I’m heading up there soon with my stall for a week of the West End Fair. I always associate the West End Fair with being damp so I’m preparing myself for the end of this dry weather. Perhaps this year will buck the trend though? By the time I get home we’ll have said cheerio to the swifts. There will be apples ready in the orchards. The evenings will be noticeably shorter. The youthfulness of the summer will be at an end and we’ll be preparing for autumn.