Out Now - Wildlife and Places to See in August!
Here you can find out about the wildlife you can seen in Wiltshire and Swindon at the moment. Visit this month's featured site to see a wealth of wildlife, take a look at our identification guide to find out more about a species group you might see, and don't forget to send us in your records!
Three to Spot
Marbled White - Melanargia galathea A resident butterfly with very distinctive black and white chequered markings on both sides of its wings, this makes them easy to identify. They are found mainly on rough flowery chalk grasslands where they have a preference for purple flowers including thistles, scabiouses and knapweeds. They can also occur in woodlands, rides and clearings. The Marbled White first emerges in late June and can be seen until August throughout Wiltshire. The female drops her eggs randomly (rather than laying them) among the tall vegetation. As soon as the caterpillar hatches it goes into hibernation and will then start feeding on Red Fescue in spring when fresh growth occurs.
Red Soldier Beetle - Rhagonycha fulva Also known as ‘bloodsucker’ due to its bright red colouration (it doesn't!), this is the most common soldier beetle in Britain. Adults are most often found on flower heads - in a wide range of habitats including gardens, road verges, hedgerows and meadows - during daytime in mating pairs. Soldier beetles are elongated beetles with soft bodies that are so named due to most of the family being red and black in colour. The Red Soldier Beetle can grow up to a centimetre long, though the females are usually larger than males. A new generation of adults emerges once a year and can be seen from late June to August, though some survive into September.
Osprey - Pandion haliaetus Osprey are primarily found in the Scottish Highlands as they prefer the pine forests and the freshwater rivers and lochs, yet they can be seen on their spring and winter migration routes as they will stop at suitable rivers and lakes for days with a plentiful supply of fish to feed before moving on. They start to arrive back from Africa in late March and leave again in August/September time. Ospreys have a slightly crested white head with a speckled crown and a black eye stripe. It is most likely to be seen in flight from below and can be identified by the long white wings which are angled at the ends where there is a large black patch.
This Month's Must See
Painted Lady - Vanessa carduiThe Painted Lady is a long-distance migratory butterfly that is easily recognised by its orange and black patterns and white spots. Travelling all the way from North Africa and the Middle East, the return of this large butterfly is a welcome indicator of summer ahead. They are to be found in a range of habitats in Wiltshire, and seem to prefer open areas with good populations of thistles which are the main foodplants of the caterpillars and provide nectar for the adults.
Summer Insects Summer is well underway and those with a pond in the garden or who are nearer a ditch or wet area can be delighted by insects as they dance around in the lazy sunny skies (when we get them!). The Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly is a rare one to look out for and is often confused with the much more widespread common Blue-tailed Damselfly. Find out about identifying summer insects you might see this month with our ID guide
Explore Devenish Nature Reserve The Devenish Reserve is one of two Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Reserves within hiking distance of central Salisbury. The walk to the top of the steep chalk downland slope provides spectacular views of the Woodford Valley. Visit this month to see an array of butterflies and download wildflowers that reach their peak in summer. Find out more about Devenish Nature Reserve
Send in records of any sightings
All species records are important, from the commonest to the rarest: plants, bird, reptiles, beetles, butterflies, mammals and more. We want to know about what you've seen in Wiltshire and Swindon and need up to date information to form an accurate picture of the state of our wildlife. If you have already sent us records, thank you very much. Don’t forget to send us any records of your sightings along with any photos (if using Living Record just email us these separately).