What Birds And Wildlife To See Over The Summer In The UK

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What Birds And Wildlife To See Over The Summer In The UK


Butterflies, birds, bugs and more - this summer what wildlife will you be able to spot?

Caitlin Neaves

Tue 5 Jul 2022

Warmer weather and longer days means many of us revel in nature during the summer months.

Whether you’re taking your lunch break in the park or heading down to a nature reserve at the weekend, there is no shortage of exciting species to be seen and enjoyed.

Here’s what species you should keep an eye out for this summer.

What Birds And Wildlife To See Over The Summer In The UK

1. Bumblebees

One of our favourite pollinators, you may think that bumblebees aren’t anything special to pay attention to this summer.

Plants and other animals depend on the bumblebee's pollination to survive; this is because they pollinate both the food we need to survive and pollinate many of the trees and flowers that provide habitats for wildlife.

A study suggests the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in any given place has declined by 30% in the course of a single human generation.

With 24 different species of the British Bumblebee they play a crucial role in the enjoyment of all of our summer flowers. You can generally catch these buzzing beauties in meadows, parks and woods and even as close as the bottom of your garden.

bumblebee collecting nectar from a blue flower

2. Nightjar

Everybody loves a comeback story and the Nightjar is a prime example of one. Through conservation efforts this small but mighty bird has moved from the UK Red List to the Amber List. Known for its distinctive bird song referred to as ‘Churring’, the Nightjar is most active in the evening hunting for moths. Woodland glades and clearings are your best bet for seeing the Nightjar, just follow the ‘Churring’ sound!

A Nightjar perched on a branch

3. Sand Lizard

We don’t see a lot of reptiles in their habitats here in the UK but during these summer months (if you’re lucky) you might just spot a Sand Lizard. Notorious for being found around heaths, these little reptiles can be found in sandy soil. RSPB are reintroducing these green beauties into the Farnham Heath reserve in Surrey and can already be found at their Arne reserve.

sand lizard amongst grass and dead leaves

4. Demoiselles

Dragonflies' dainty relatives are the demoiselles. Laid back, slower and more delicate than dragonflies, demoiselles would prefer to be found at rivers and streams. There are only two species of these gorgeous insects in the UK - the males being a deep blue and the females are green with brown wings.

A demoiselle, bright blue, on a piece of wheat grass

5. Swallowtail Butterfly

Butterflies, some can name species on sight and others just know them all as Butterflies. However, this summer if you are looking to get more specific with the species of butterflies you see keep your eyes peeled for the Swallowtail butterfly. There are many pattern variations but many have yellow, orange, red, green, or blue markings on an iridescent black, blue, or green background. You will only find these rare charmers in and around fenland as they feed on milk parsley specifically. A great place to spot them is RSPB Strumpshaw Fen.

yellow and black butterfly on a purple flower

6. Dragonflies

With 57 species of dragonfly in the UK, you can’t miss them if you frequent ponds and meadowland. If you spend some time waiting by the water on a hot summer day, you will more than likely see a lot of buzzing action. Keep an eye out for the largest, the Emperor dragonfly, which is 8cm long.

An Emperor dragonfly perched on a stand of grass

7. Swifts

On their migration journey, the Swift comes to visit us in the UK for twelve weeks before moving onto their last migration stop, Africa. Arriving in April or early may, swifts stay until late July or early August. These birds can reach speeds of up to 69mph, darting about the skies. Unlike some of the other wildlife in this guide, the swift can be found in old buildings so keep your eyes open up there. The breath-taking swifts have been put on the Red List due to dwindling numbers. The RSPB have set up the ‘RSPB Swift Survey’ to help record the numbers of these magical birds. They encourage you to join in and help gather this much needed data.

A swift flying through the sky

8. Basking Shark

Sharks in the UK? Not the dangerous kind at least! Basking Sharks are the second largest fish in the world and are gentle giants at that. With large open mouths, these sharks take in thousands of litres of water every hour alongside any sea critters and fish that find their way in there. These guys can be found along the coasts of Cornwall and around the Scottish islands of Coll and Tiree.

9. Hobby Falcon

On the hunt for dragonflies to munch on, you’ll find the Hobby hanging about by woods and waters. A small falcon, the Hobby is incredibly swift and agile, and renowned for being one of the only species of bird that can catch Swifts and Swallows mid-flight. These impressive creatures are a sight to behold, especially if you can catch sight of them on the hunt.

10. Common Bat

Weighing less than a 10p coin and measuring less than 5cm long, the Common Bat is a small force to be reckoned with. Don’t believe for a second that bats can only be found in caves. These nocturnal animals can be found after dusk in urban areas too. Watch out for them across the skyline feasting on any flying insects they can sink their teeth into. Using their teeth to catch prey, they’ll bite down first before choking their dinner.

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