August is such a vibrant month for looking for wildlife. In the Cairngorms National Park, the variety of habitats means a variety of species. In August, young mammals have left their parent’s and are venturing out on their own. There’s a higher number of individuals learning how to fend for themselves, making it a prime month for wildlife watching. That coupled with warmer, more consistently drier weather, means waiting and watching very comfortable and enjoyable.
Dragonflies fly from early Spring right up until the warmer days in October, however, the highest number of different species are seen during July and August. Common Darters are a common sight in Speyside. Often spotted in amongst our peat bogs and damp marshes, they have incredible vision, seeing 360 degrees, their colour spectrum is wider than humans. They catch flies and other small insects in flight so are a real pleasure to watch.
Grasses and flowers are tall and in full bloom. With pollination of most grasses, finished by mid-August, we can enjoy walking through the many grass meadows in the area without sneezing! Here are firm favourites, Devils bit-scabious and Harebell in flower, also known as the Scottish Bluebell. I feel the theme of purple continues with Purple Loosestrife and Thistles providing nectar for summer butterflies.
Hares are plentiful in farmland field surround the villages. The freshly cut fields makes Hares more visible as they dart in between the hedgerows. Along with Roe Deer and their ruby red coats they wear in the summer, looking for mammals is a real treat in August.
House Martins are one of the few migrant birds that attempt a second and sometimes a risky third brood throughout the summer. Before their return migration in the Autumn, you will see House Martins rebuilding or patching their nests. Warm dry ground can me it a bit more difficult however, the number of insects available for feeding young are in abundance.
Robins and other songbirds are looking less bedraggled with new moults and are singing again. The adult Robins are sporting a lovely bright red breast again in their shiny new feathers. You can hear a Robins now singing for territory again, after a couple months of preserving their energy.
Moorland continues with August theme of purple and has the most amazing spectacle of bell heather in bloom. The Cairngorms National Park is made up of 36% moorland so it’s no surprise that we spend a bit of time admiring this environment. Species such as Grouse, Meadow Pipit and Wheatear can be seen here.
With earlier dusks in August, it’s a great time to look out for Bats. They enjoy the warm summer evenings and feast on our abundance in midges and mosquitos as well as moths. They can be known to roost under bridges and tree holes. The Soprano pipistrelle is the most common in Scotland and is easily identified by its erratic flight. I find great enjoyment watching bat’s and quickly forget it’s a summer scene and they, like a lot of species, hibernate in Winter.
August is a reliably warm and fruitful month in Speyside. Looking for wildlife on one of our Guided Day’s Out is a great way to see what’s around.