Summer wildlife watching

Summer wildlife watching - Wildlife and photography articles
Lie down in a meadow or wooded glade in July and nature will literally be crawling all over you. Local wildlife photographer and writer Dan Waters selects some special sights to look out for.

Spring may herald new life for many species, but summer is the best time for spotting the tottering toddlers emerge from their nests, burrows and dens. Rambunctious fox and badger cubs rampage around their territories while their parents try to train them for life on their own. And because of the long hours of daylight there’s no better time to get clear sightings in comfortable conditions.

In the heat of the day, you’ll find dragonflies and damselflies hunt every lake and river from Ferry Meadows to Dogsthorpe Star Pit. Pretty they may be, but cute they are not. They’re relentless predators that consume anything they can grab. But as you relax to the gentle whirring of their finger-sized wings, take pleasure in the knowledge that they are mostly consuming mosquitoes and midges.

If you want to get a closer look at dragonflies and butterflies then get up early before they’ve warmed up. They’ll be soporific so you can get very close and take excellent close up photos without them budging an inch.

Song birds are much quieter in July as the
main breeding period is drawing to a close and territories do not need to be advertised, but the raptors - their carnivorous cousins - are extremely active. Red kites have plenty of carrion due to the terminal indiscretions of unfortunate fox and badger cubs. A morning or early evening drive down the A605 towards Oundle is almost guaranteed to reward you with red kite sightings. The osprey chicks at Rutland Water are starting to move around the nest and test their wings before they begin their hazardous journey to the wetlands of Africa
next month. And you don’t have many weeks left to enjoy the swirling dance of the swallows, swifts and martins that brighten up summer evening strolls.

Summer is the one time of year that you have
half a chance of getting the kids out in the fresh air. The muddier they can get and the more weird or disgusting the animal appears, the more enthusiasm you’re likely to drum up. Now is a great time to see slow worms, adders and grass snakes basking in the early morning sun, or toadlets leaving their watery homes on warm summer evenings. Try Bedford Purlieus nature reserve, just off the A47 between Wandsford and Duddington.
Thankfully, even in this day and age, pond
dipping and other traditional hands-on activities are still organised by local wildlife organisations. So why not contact the Wildlife Trust or Froglife and find out about their busy event schedules?

David Attenborough was once asked how
he acquired his interest in wildlife. His answer (roughly translated) was, “how did you lose your interest?” It’s an astute answer because all young children seem to naturally love wildlife. It’s only through being disconnected from it that the love and interest fades.

But if you think it may take more than mud
and creepy crawlies to engage your brood
then consider a holiday on the west coast of
Scotland. July and August are a good time to
see minke whales, killer whales and basking
sharks around the Inner Hebrides. Killer whales are an excellent cure for TV addiction!


For your local Wildlife Trust visit

For Froglife - the Peterborough based UK
charity for reptiles and amphibians visit

For some of the best reserves in and around
Peterborough visit
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