Wild Shropshire

Holly blue butterfly

Jim Higham

What could you see this month?

Reserves to visit

With over 40 to choose from, here are our favourites to visit at this time of the year.

Click here to see all our Reserves

Red kite in flight

Stephen Barlow

Red kite

Persecuted to near extinction in the UK, the Red Kite has made a tremendous comeback thanks to reintroduction programmes and legal protection.  Its distinctive shape and 'mewing' calls making it easy to identify.

They have spread east into Shropshire and are becoming an increasingly common site in the hilly areas in the central and western reaches of the county. They are often seen soaring over The Stiperstones Ridge and Nipstone Rock throughout the year.

Harebell

Bruce Shortland

Harebell

Look out for harebells in dry, grassy places such as hilltops. It is regularly visited by bumblebees and Honeybees, providing an autumnal source of nectar for these insects. 

It has picked up various local names, including 'Witches' Thimbles' and 'Fairy Bells', alluding to magical associations.

Slow worm

(c) Bruce Shortland

Slow-worm

Despite appearances, the slow-worm is actually a legless lizard, not a worm or a snake! - Its identity is given away by its ability to shed its tail and blink with its eyelids.

You might be lucky enough to spot one in your garden, where it favours compost heaps. Don't worry they are harmless. 

Common pipistrelle

Tom Marshall

Bats

At dusk on warm evenings, look out for bats flying around hunting for insects to eat, particuarly at this time of the year as the numbers of moths increase. You can often spot bats over your garden – a tiny Pipistrelle (pictured) can eat around 3,000 insects every night!

Near rivers you may see Daubenton’s bats, which fly low over water to scoop up insects near the surface with their feet or tail.

Read more about attracting bats to your garden.

Heather

Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Heather

Heather is also known as 'Ling' and is an abundant plant on heathland, moorland, bogs and even in woodland with acidic or peat soils. Its delicate pink flowers appear from August to October and are a contrast to the tough, wiry, sprawling stems they grow upon. 

The season of butterflies and moths

Here are just a few to look out for this summer.

Holly blue butterfly

Jim Higham

Holly blue

Holly blue is the first blue butterfly to emerge in spring, and a second generation appears in summer, between July and September. This is the blue butterfly most likely to be found in gardens.

Meadow brown

Meadow brown

One of our most common butterflies, the meadow brown can be spotted on grasslands, and in gardens and parks, often in large numbers. 

The meadow brown has only one small white 'pupil' in the eyespots, instead of two like the gatekeeper (below).

Gatekeeper

Philip Precey

Gatekeeper

The gatekeeper is brown above, with large orange patches in the middle of the wings. It is also known as the Hedge Brown, often found where tall grasses grow close to hedges, trees or scrub. 

Small skipper

Jim Higham

Skippers

Worldwide approximately 3,500 of the 18,000 species of butterfly belong to the skipper family, characterised by their rapid and darting flight and vein wing patterns.

Look out for Dingy skipper, Grizzled skipper, Large skipper and Small skipper

The butterfly pictured is a Small skipper, It is found where there is plenty of grasses, so they can lay their eggs: caterpillars hatch in late summer. They eat their own eggshell and then go into hibernation within the grass sheath where they emerged.

Scarlet tiger moth

Malcolm Storey

Scarlet tiger moth

It flies both in sunshine, particularly in the late afternoon and early evening, and at night.

Several have been spotted in Shropshire gardens, we are right on the edge of their known range (2016 Moth Atlas) so this may demonstrate the species is spreading - perhaps as a result of a changing climate.

Six-spot burnet

Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Six-spot burnet

A day-flying moth that flies with a slow, fluttering pattern.The adults feed on the nectar of knapweed, thistles and other grassland flowers, The red spots of burnet moths indicate to predators that they are poisonous: they release hydrogen cyanide when attacked.

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Stephen Barlow