Wildlife gardening with Kate Humble - August

Pipistrelle bat

Pipistrelle bat

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Late in the summer, the August greenery is beginning to lose its vibrancy, but the wildlife is still busy, particularly around the pond.

So watch out for damselflies, which are identified by their slender bodies, and the larger dragonflies, flying around lily pads that provide the perfect place for them to lay their eggs.

One thing to do in the garden is to plant marigolds in sunny positions around plants such as tomatoes and peppers.

Marigolds are perfect at attracting hoverflies, the harmless mimic of the wasp, and ladybirds to eat the greenfly that nibble on leaves.

Try to trim hedges less frequently if you can so that any late birds’ nests aren’t disturbed and wildlife can still shelter and feed -particularly after the rain of the last few months.

August is prime bat-watching season and the numbers of bats reach their peak at this time.

On a dry night, around dusk, go out to watch these tiny, vulnerable creatures in action.

The most common bat visitors to gardens are the Pipistrelles, who loop and wheel about at low levels, eating those annoying biting midges and tiny insects.

They catch the insects using the tiniest of echoes and squeaks; this echo system ensures they will never get caught in any one’s hair, despite the popular fear!

Early August sees the airborne masters of flight, the swifts, gather together for the return journey to Africa after a quick summer holiday in the UK.

Swifts have small cigar-shaped bodies and are usually brown or grey, compared to the brightly coloured swallows with their long narrowing wings. 
Sadly, the swift is on the Amber list of Conservation Concern, so it’s a real worry to the RSPB who want to find out where the swifts are in order to prevent further nest sites from being destroyed.

To help, take part in the wildlife charity’s Swift Survey.

Just keep an eye out for low-level groups of swifts making their distinctive screaming calls, which mean they’re breeding, at dusk and early morning then report any sightings to the RSPB at www.rspb.org.uk/helpswifts