The first flush of spring growth may be over, but with temperatures rising, Dorset offers the wildlife enthusiast an impressive and ever-changing sequence of flowering plants across the county this month.
It's Show Time!
Amongst the more showy species, look out for the various marsh and spotted orchids plus bee and pyramidal orchids on some of our DWT reserves. At the same time, see the varied growth forms and colours of the other flowers, each one competing for the attention of pollinating insects.
Blowing in the wind
Of course some plants, including the grasses, are wind-pollinated and as a result, have no need for bright-coloured petals. Even so, marvel at the variety of forms (and names!) of this important family of plants now in flower including quaking grass, crested dogstail, Yorkshire fog, cocksfoot and downy oat grass etc.
A number of our common native butterflies, including small and large skippers, small heath, meadow brown and ringlet, which use grasses as their foodplants will be on the wing this month.
Watery Damsels & Dragons
A riverside walk in June offers endless possibilities for enjoying the landscape and observing wetland plants, insect or fish-eating birds and even water voles. One large damselfly which appears in numbers this month is the banded demoiselle. The males have a broad dark blue patch on each wing and a metallic blue-green body. The females lack the blue wing patch. Males often chase each other and are territorial.
The Emperor Dragonfly, arguably our largest species, makes its appearance this month. Males have a bright blue abdomen and green thorax and frequent ponds, lakes and clay pits. They are impressive predators and I've seen them capture very uncommon butterflies and dragonflies!
Snakes in the Compost?
The grass snake is by far the largest of the three snakes found in Dorset and females will be laying their eggs this month. Compost heaps are a favourite location for the eggs and a nearby pond may also offer a ready supply of food in the way of frogs, toads, newts and small fish.
Looking after the kids
Roe deer are abundant in Dorset and the doe drops her kids (usually one or two) in May/June. When very young, the kids are well camouflaged and remain inactive. If you live around the Poole basin, then you will be very familiar with sika deer, a larger species which originally came from Japan. Japanese sika hinds also give birth to their young (normally just one) in May/June.
Finally, watch out for the birds...
And finally, most of our resident birds now have young. Perhaps you have seen young blackbirds and starlings being fed by their parents on your lawn, seen roving family parties of long-tailed tits, heard demanding young great spotted woodpeckers in their tree hole nests or coot, moorhen and mallard chicks on a local pond.
As for our summer migrants, why not take a trip over to the DWT reserve on Brownsea Island and enjoy close views of the nesting terns from the MacDonald hide?
Written by John Wright
Dorset Wildlife Trust Member & Volunteer
Common Spotted Orchids (by Jane Adams)
Sika Deer at Brownsea Island (by Jane Adams)
Sandwich Terns at Brownsea Island
Photographs by John Wright
unless otherwise stated