Birds and butterflies
Nightjars, buzzards and ravens aren’t the only birds to look out for on Mottistone Common on the Isle of Wight. Another favourite is the Dartford warbler, making a welcome return to the restored heathland. Linnets and yellowhammers also nest in the gorse. Look out too for the beautiful small copper butterfly and the well-camouflaged grayling.
And if you get down on your hands and knees, tell-tale holes in the ground may indicate the lairs of burrowing insects. Two unusual ones which are thankfully now fairly widespread again on the Common are the mining bee and the beewolf, which is actually a digger wasp. Other insects to look out for are the bright green tiger beetle and the common field grasshopper.
Heather and gorse are found in abundance on the Common, both typical of acidic soils. The gorse is actively managed by cutting small discrete areas to create a patchwork of different aged bushes for nesting birds. There are plenty of smaller wildflowers too. In high summer you should see pink common centaury, yellow dandelion-like hawksbit and white-flowered heath bedstraw with its whorls of slim, sharp leaves. Red sheep sorrel can be found at almost any time of year.