Monthly Round Up: July

Karen Foster News


We look forward to the return of warm sunny days that make us sleepy in our ways, so we can relax outdoors with nature this month.

However, the heat, scents, sounds and blossom that summer brings is enough to leave us all in a spin, not just the house martins and swallows that twist and turn on the wing.

Whist the longest day has past, the fruits of nature’s spring labour lasts – displayed in plants, flowers, fruits and insects.

When the temperatures creep up it won’t be just the cold-blooded reptiles who creep out to bask in the sun. Yet, summer living is not easy for all. For animal parents, their work has just begun as they protect, feed, teach and care for their young. Despite the main bird breeding season being over some, including blackbirds and long-tailed tits, may raise their second brood this month.

As summer holidays get closer we are not the only ones preparing for travel, our ponds start to empty as great crested newts, frogs and toads head for land. The adult cuckoos are the first of our summer visitors to depart. Their offspring follow later, remarkably finding their own way south to the tropical heights of Africa.

Under blue skies, the patchwork quilt of our green and golden countryside can be seen, revealing where the barley ripens and the hay and silage have been cut. Look out for a delightful charm of Goldfinches, chiming from thistle to branch. The swifts will also be showcasing their acrobatic skills – falling and screaming on a warm summer evening. Come the end of the month they too will be preparing for a swift exit. Bats will also be out on the wing, chasing the moths as the evening temperature drops.

Amongst all the glory do not miss the poppies in July, ‘wrinkly and clear red’, popping up on the edge of arable fields.

With things heating up, this month we’ve a cool programme of events to help you enjoy wildlife at your own leisure.

On Saturday 1st Bright Water set the pace with a walk to Darlington to uncover its industrial heritage. They meet at the Head of Steam Railway Museum – stops include North Road Station, the Skerne Railway Bridge and Edward Pease’s House. It’s not just the weather heating up when our Low Barns Watch Group go electrofishing on the 1st too. Joined by the Wear Rivers Trust they will be catching, surveying and, importantly, releasing unharmed fish back into the river.

On Thursday 6th the awards evening for the North East Wildlife Photography Competition takes place at the Great North Museum. With over 1,500 wild entries made, join us to see who snaps up the prizes. Those who fancy themselves as next year’s winner, don’t forget the second Tuesday of the month our Rainton Meadows Photography Group meet.

Also on Tuesday 11th the Lanchester Wildlife Group take a field trip to the North Pennines hoping that the sun will bring out the reptiles.

On Saturday 15th it’s our monthly Wildlife Watch at Rainton Meadows introducing the fun of nature to children of all ages.

Tuesday 18th Bright Water continue the journey with a trip to the proposed Bishops Fen Nature Reserve site, whilst on Wednesday 19th we are at Wingate Quarry Nature Reserve looking for the carpet chalk moth. The moth has declined in the Durham area to the extreme that there is only one recent record from Wingate Quarry. At Chalk that Up we hope to find more.

On Tuesday 25th we are calling all young artists out there to take inspiration from nature as we create some Outdoor Wild Art at Low Barns.

We end the month on Wednesday 26th with our local wildlife group, Washington Wildlife Group at Washington Old Hall.

Don’t forget our weekly Tuesday wild yoga and Wednesday craft hours continue throughout the month too.

Whilst you may have missed Glastonbury, don’t miss out on the wildest festival of the year Campsterley: Wildlife Camping Festival in August. Our tickets are going fast, so book your place now.

Don’t forget to share your (hopefully) sunny photos of wildlife this month with us on Twitter @durhamwildlife and Facebook.

Karen Foster
DWT Volunteer

Karen enjoys long fast walks along country lanes, coastal paths or hiding away from it all in a bird hide. Animal lover, guinea pig owner and bass guitar player for two indie bands, Karen lives in Gateshead and works as a business development lead for an architectural practice. Karen volunteers with Durham Wildlife Trust, highlighting upcoming events and opportunities to get out and enjoy our region's wildlife.