Butterflies on the wing in August include marbled white, large skipper, large white, small white, comma, meadow brown, gatekeeper and possibly ringlet and small skipper. You can look for all of these at Lorton Meadows nature reserve in Weymouth.
Look for flowers such as black knapweed, wild carrot, fleabane, yarrow, broad-leaved helleborine, teasel, red bartsia and water mint (very aromatic after rain). All of these can be found at Lorton Meadows. Listen for the seeds of the yellow rattle (also known as hay rattle), announcing the time to cut hay, according to tradition. Kingcombe and Lorton Meadows should be rattling nicely at this time!
August is a great month to visit heathland, with the heathers in bloom and the first of the stunning marsh gentians flowering towards the end of the month and into September. Look out for all six native reptiles and listen for nightjars ‘churring’ their eerie song as darkness falls. Check out the lovely video below to see their stunning flight and strange sound!
Look out for some stunning insects and spiders, including the great green bush cricket, and wasp spider. August is the peak month for dragonflies, including the spectacular emperor dragonfly.
At the coast and on Brownsea Island nature reserve, look out for wading birds on the move after their breeding season. Terns can still be spotted fishing off the beaches the Sandwich terns with their spectacular vertical dive and the more delicate common terns, sometimes called sea-swallows, diving at an angle. They will soon be leaving to spend the winter in Africa.
Under the sea and on the shore...
The arrival of August sees the waters warming up and more exotic visitors to our shores and seas. When the weather is calm and warm, jellyfish can often be seen in the clearer waters and sometimes washed up on the beach. Compass jellyfish have distinctive markings on their bell resembling the rose of a compass.
Moon jellyfish do not have the long tentacles like other jellyfish have but four distinctive rings. Most jellyfish sting so do not to touch them. Very occasionally Portuguese Man-of-War are blown here from more exotic shores. These are not actually jellyfish but a colony of different animals, living closely together, each having its own role i.e. feeding etc. The sting of these can be harmful to humans. Take a look at the video below, it might have been filmed on the other side of the world from Dorset... but you can be treated to the same view here!
In the warm waters of the rock pools the beautiful and unusual Peacocks Tail can be seen. Many of the rockpools in Kimmeridge have this seaweed in them at the moment.
The jellyfish attract predators to these shores. Occasionally the huge Mola mola or Sunfish can be spotted offshore. Sometimes just a fin can be seen but when the waters are clear the huge fish, reaching 6-8 feet, can be seen lying on its side.
More local species can now be spotted in rockpools. The inquisitivewill peer out from rocks and common prawns will try to ‘clean’ your fingers if you dip your hands into the water.
Marbled whites - Ken Dolbear
Common Lizard - Dorset Wildlife Trust
Sandwich Terns - Dorset Wildlife Trust
Peacok Worms - Peter Tinsley
Porcelain crab hitching a lift on a tompot blenny - Emma Rance