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Nature of Britain Calendar: July

Updated Tuesday, 1st July 2008

Wading birds are returning from their breeding grounds - but what else is happening in the wild UK?

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Do one thing

Put up a butterfly feeder in your garden or on a balcony to attract a variety of species.

What to look for

High summer is here. Hedgerows and road verges that haven’t been mown are bright with marjoram, knapweed, field scabious and thistles. These flowers attract a range of butterflies such as meadow brown, marbled white and gatekeeper. See if you can spot the stripy cinnabar moth caterpillar feeding on ragwort.

No prizes for guessing where you might find the caterpillar of the privet hawkmoth, and the huge snake-mimicking caterpillars of the elephant hawk moth as they lurk among the leaves of willowherb and garden fuchsias.

On the coast in a few places, colonies of little terns are rearing chicks, and young ringed plovers crouch for camouflage amid the shingle.

Dragonflies are at their best. A visit to a lake or pond will produce brown and southern hawkers and common darters as well as the slender azure and common blue damselflies.

Did you know

For wading birds the summer is already over, as adult birds start to arrive back on their estuaries from breeding areas as far away as Siberia and Canada.Their youngsters will arrive in August or September. Log on to birdtrack to record your observations and see what others have spotted, and find out more from BTOweb.

Habitat of the month: Reedbeds

Listen out for sedge and reed warblers as well as moorhen and coot who will have their chicks in tow. Dragonflies can be spotted as they look for their prey.

Photo opportunity: Dragonflies

These magnificent insects are more sluggish and easily photographed if the weather is a bit cool. Early in the day is best before they warm up. If you are not an early riser try using a telephoto lens to get close up shots.

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