What to see in summer

River Swale meandering through Hudswell Woods

On a warm summer’s day Hudswell Wood is a mosaic of dappled shade and sunny glades. Speckled wood butterflies dance along the woodland edges and the flower rich pasture and scrub habitats hum with insect life. The River Swale glides by disturbed only by fish taking flies off the water’s surface.

Summer can be a time for picnics and lazy walks broken up with quiet contemplation, watching wildlife going about its business. If you explore the woodland and grasslands there is much to see from the varied assortment of nectar loving insects enjoying our wild flowers to daubenton’s bats at sunset picking food off the river.

Wild flowers

Look out for the common spotted orchid around Hudswell Woods
Common Spotted Orchid around Hudswell Woods

We are grazing livestock through the winter months to improve our grassland habitats and increase the number and species of wild flowers that grow here and flower through the summer. This will benefit bees, butterflies, moths and other nectar loving insects, and we also think you will enjoy it too! Summer is a great time to spend time in the meadows, enjoying the beauty of the wild flowers and watching the pollinators at work.

Butterflies and moths

Chimney sweeper moths are a common site on a warm sunny morning as they flutter across pasture white with pignut flowers
Chimney sweeper moth

The meadow areas surrounding Round Howe and along the riverside are especially good for observing butterflies and day flying moths, such as this chimney sweeper moth (pictured). In late summer the flowering buddleia shrubs along the riverbank also attract a wide range of butterflies. Although technically a garden escapee these flowering shrubs are tolerated as they offer an excellent source of nectar.

Marmalade hoverflies

Look carefully for Marmalade hoverflies
Marmalade hoverfly

As their name suggests these hoverflies are a marmalade colour interspersed with thick and thin black bands. They often form large migratory swarms and if weather conditions are right they can even arrive in massive numbers from the continent. Whether you see individuals visiting flowers in the meadows or a swarm sheltering at the edge of the woodland don’t worry, they are completely harmless.

Scruffy birds

Identifying scruffy young birds can provide a challenge even for experienced birdwatchers
juvenile pied wagtail

After the rigours of feeding their offspring, adult bird plumage is starting to look tired at this time of year. What’s more, there are also plenty of newly fledged birds about that have yet to develop the distinctive adult plumage that many of us recognise. Identifying immature birds can challenge even experienced bird watchers. The bird pictured is a young pied wagtail; it doesn’t look much like its parents! 

Woodland clearings

Paths through Calfhall Wood are often in dappled shade, they offer a welcome alternative on a hot summer’s day
Dappled shade in Calfhall Wood

Summer is a wonderful time to walk through the woods; with the sun high in the sky shafts of sunlight frequently find their way through the tree canopy and illuminate the woodland floor. Many plant, bird and insect species are attracted to these areas. If you have time spend a few moments quietly observing the inhabitants of our sunny woodland clearings, there is often more activity than first meets the eye.