August was yet another very variable month weather-wise and some areas of the UK experienced high winds and torrential rain. Here in my Shropshire wildlife garden conditions could have been worse and at least we had sunshine between the storms. Our nesting swallows were coping well with the poor weather conditions – they seemed to be experienced parents and not first time breeders as I had suspected and they were happily incubating their second brood. Even when visitors came to the front door they generally sat tight and were not too disturbed. Spells of good weather between the storms meant that they went into overdrive once the eggs had hatched, expertly swooping up to the nest to feed the youngsters.
Around the borders butterflies were still very much in evidence with a huge influx of peacocks – I counted forty around the long borders and the herb garden. Painted Lady and red admiral were also numerous especially on the Buddleia. Other birds were much in evidence, not least the local red kites which appear to have had a successful nest locally. Two adults and a juvenile soared over the garden on clear days and their whistling echoed all around our little valley.
As we moved into the second week of the month nothing really changed weather wise, except that it became even more windy! The local female kestrel visited the garden several times, often hovering over the wildflower meadows or sitting on the wires over the back garden and a male sparrowhawk also found a convenient place to perch – on the back of one of our garden seats. Bumblebees were plentiful and butterflies continued to survive in the wet and windy conditions. A wonderful hummingbird hawkmoth was feeding on the Buddleia on the 9th.
The wild mallard ducklings continued to feed around the garden but we were able to encourage them out of our garden this week and into the large neglected field next door. This field has a big natural pond where eleven ducklings will be able to find plenty of food. This pond is much bigger than ours, affording them safety from any predators that might be around.
On the 13th of the month a juvenile siskin was seen on the feeders. I was thrilled to see this gorgeous little bird – after having so many in the garden over the winter I was hopeful that they would be breeding in the area and this visitor seemed to confirm that. Later this week two more siskins appeared – an adult male and an adult female. Very bad weather on the 14th left the garden windswept and wet. On the morning of the 15th a male blackcap sat in the hawthorn outside the back door looking fluffed up and quite miserable (if it is possible for a bird to look miserable). The variable damp weather continued and these conditions brought yet more hungry young birds from second broods to the garden. Several large dragonflies were around the big pond including a brown hawker. On the 17th the female mallard abandoned her ducklings on the pond next door and returned to our pond. The next day all the ducklings had returned having somehow climbed over the fence that surrounds our garden.
The last week of the month continued with the variable weather and there were fewer butterflies on the buddleia and other flowers. Young goldfinches started to use the bird feeders and as the month came to a close we saw several wrens roosting together in one of our nest boxes – a sure sign that summer is coming to an end.