The Norfolk Coast – A monthly wildlife guide by Oli Reville
It is often said, by birders at least, that the summer months are dull and lifeless when it comes to the number of birds present. Spring migration is just a distant memory and Autumn migration is still a couple of months away from being in full flow.
However in many places this scenario changes quite a bit. The end of July and the start of August are the best times to see large numbers of wading birds. For them Autumn migration starts in July, just as children across the country are breaking up for their summer holidays. This is very evident at the moment on the north Norfolk coast with numerous coastal sites teaming with these waders.
Elsewhere in the bird world species are getting ready to begin the long migration south for winter. Swifts will be leaving us by the second week of August, with House Martins and Swallows following soon after. Species like Cuckoo, Whitethroat, Redstart and Wheatear are all African migrants which spend the summer in the UK and their time here begins to come to an end in August as they to move south. Where has summer gone?
Birds are moving at sea as well and it’s worth keeping an eye out off the coast for passing Gannets, Razorbills, Guillemots and Skuas as August progresses, there may even be a rarity or two thrown into the mix.
Aside from birds it’s very much business as usual for the start of August. Warm temperatures are fantastic for Butterflies and Moths and species such as the stunning Garden Tiger and Cinnabar moths can be found at this time of year. It is worth keeping an eye out for a large yellow Butterfly called a Clouded-Yellow. This migratory species is in its adult stage during August and in good years can be seen throughout Norfolk. It is also worth looking for Painted Lady, another migrant butterfly species.
Summer is coming to an end for orchid species but chalk areas such as Warham Camp should still hold good numbers of Pyramidal orchid until the middle of August, along with the delicate Chalkhill Blue butterfly.
As August ends we will see the end of much of the insect life mentioned in these monthly guides. Autumn will be upon us by the end of September and it very much becomes about birds and migration. So get out there and enjoy the last 6 weeks of summer and the wonderful wildlife it has to offer in Norfolk.