Monthly Round Up: August

Karen Foster News

Image: Low Barns Dragonfly, Nick Brischuk

The school holidays have just begun and seaside outings are still to come.  Yet, as swallows line up along telephone wires, late summer also signals autumn is just around the corner.

As summer also reaches dizzy heights, despite the buzzing from insects and children, August is a quieter month for wildlife.  Whilst we may rise to a sunny day, many of our summer visiting birds have already sneaked away – taking with them the beautiful song that woke us in the morning.

With a sudden end to the dawn chorus, and little action in our bronzed gardens, many wonder what has happened to our birds.  The breeding season is over for our summer visitors and so is the purpose of their stay, watch them gather before they fly away.  The cheeky blackbirds that were looking a little ruffled have gone to change their feathers.  Moulting is tiring and even the blackbird likes to undress with a little privacy.  As wheat ripens, the house sparrows often spend their summer holidays in farmers’ fields.

Berries also begin to ripen in our hedgerows from blackberries, elderberries, hawthorn, sloes to rosehips there is something for children, adults and birds to pick.

As the sunny days make our midsummer flowers fade, and sun kissed fields start to look tired and parched, we see in our English landscape why the seasons must change.  Yet, before this time comes we have a sunny programme of events so you can make the most of the wildlife that is still hanging out for the summer.

We start with a splash as we go Pond Dipping on Tuesday 1st at Low Barns Nature Reserve and on Wednesday 2nd at Herrington.  Our Beach School also starts the month on Wednesday 2nd, providing a cooler coastal alternative to classroom learning.  Meet us on the beach in Whitburn and join us again on Thursday 3rd, Wednesday 9th and Friday 10th for a wave of different sessions.

On Thursday 3rd we celebrate 50 Years of Low Barns with a guided walk for members around our reserve.  Historically agricultural land and gravel pits, Low Barns is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest, so come and learn how wildlife has reclaimed our land.

Our weekly Friday Family John Muir Award sessions begin on the 4th.  From Invasive Species Control, to Site Conservation on 11th to Meadow Management and Bumblebee ID on the 25th, our conservation focussed sessions will help your family achieve their wild summer goals.

Our Lanchester Wildlife Group takes a field trip on Tuesday 8th to the mystery woodland site deep in the Derwent Valley, whilst our Rainton Meadows Photography Group hold an open night.

On Wednesday 9th, as part of ‘Fun in the Park’ at Moore Lane, we have A Bird Bonanza and we’ll also be dipping into Whinnies Local Nature Reserve for Pond Dip and Wild Sculpture.  We return our focus to our feathered friends with Family Bird Detective at Low Barns on Tuesday 15th.  Taking to the air will also be kites, after we’ve finished our Wild Kite Making session at Saltmarsh Garden.

Join us on Wednesday 16th at Herrington Country Park for My Wild Sunderland and get involved in a wide range of wildlife activities.

Our first ever camping festival Campsterley takes place on 18 – 20th at Hamsterley Forest with wild activities for children and adults.  It seems camping and wildlife make the perfect combination as our tickets have already sold out!

On Tuesday 22nd at Tanfield Lea Community Centre we will find out where our birds camp out as we learn about nests and Build a Bird Box.  On Wednesday 23rd we creep over to Saltmarsh Garden to enjoy our Big Bug Morning.

On Thursday 24th we follow the tracks and trails of our very shy nocturnal friends on our Family Otter Walk at Winlaton Mill.  Whilst we may not spot an otter we are certain to spot bees when we bumble along to The Whinnies on the same day to take part in the big bumble bee count at Buzzing about Bees.

We end the month on high spirits and colours as we continue with Wild Kite Making on Tuesday 29th and return to Saltmarsh Garden on Wednesday 30th for some Outdoor Wild Art.

Don’t forget our monthly and weekly clubs will be taking place too.  For all event listings and further details visit:

We hope you have a wild and sunny August – please continue to share your photos with us on Twitter @durhamwildlife, Instagram 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.