Latest wildlife sightings – August 2021

Latest wildlife sightings – August 2021

From our woods and wetlands to our peat bogs and peaceful coastline, you couldn’t tread anywhere without some wonderful wildlife sightings in August. Catch up with what our staff, volunteers and visitors spotted last month.


With autumn on the horizon, the bird migration has well and truly begun, with Brockholes nature reserve in Preston one of the best places to watch the spectacle. A spotted flycatcher, tree pipit and yellow wagtail dropped by, three redstarts were seen from the Ribble viewpoint, and willow warblers were feeding in the hedgerows into double figures.

Waders were recorded in good numbers, with curlew, dunlin, snipe, black-tailed godwits, a green sandpiper and more than 200 lapwings all recorded on the reserve in August. Two hobbies took advantage of the abundant dragonflies on Meadow Lake while swallows and sand martins gobbled up flies by the river, no doubt feeding up for their upcoming autumn migration.

A male redstart perched on a twig, showing off his orange breast, black face and slate-grey head

Male redstart by Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Watching the birds feeding definitely added an early autumn flair to the air – with flocks of more than 60 goldfinches feeding on fluffy seedheads and hungry whitethroats snacking on the first blackberries. But that wasn’t all… an osprey was regularly spotted fishing in Ribbleton Pool!

Don’t forget to check out the Brockholes latest sightings blogs written regularly by the in focus team for more wildlife updates.

Mere Sands Wood

There seems to be something of a peaceful lull at Mere Sands Wood before the real autumn fun begins. Fungi are on their way, but for now, there is still plenty to see during your peaceful stroll.

Visitors watched kingfishers hunting near the hides, great crested grebes paddled serenely across the lakes, and herons and little grebes fished side by side. As well as the brilliant birdlife, visitor, Janice Sutton, also spotted a lovely dingy footman moth feeding from ragwort. This species is found around damp woodland, fens and sea cliffs, with caterpillars that feed on lichens.

A lion's mane jellyfish swimming serenly through the ocean

Alexander Mustard/2020VISION

Heysham harbour

The Heysham coast is a brilliant place to watch the bird migration as summer starts to wane. Last month, waders began to return to the area around Heysham harbour, with numbers of grey plovers, knot and dunlin growing towards the end of the month. They joined a whole host of other more regular, but no less exciting birds.

The skear brimmed with little egrets, curlew, whimbrel, up to 5,854 oystercatchers, redshank, ringed plovers, family groups of eider ducks and turnstones (still in their stunning summer plumage) all feeding on shrimps and worms. Up to 22 linnets were spotted feeding on the saltmarsh, whilst rock pipits foraged along the foreshore. A purple sandpiper was seen resting on the sloping heliport wall, and seawatches yielded 40 Manx shearwaters, 57 common scoters, an auk and gannets.

Birds aside, the Heysham Bird Observatory volunteers found a few lion’s-mane jellyfish washed up on the beach or soaking in shallow pools.

Middleton Nature Reserve

If the past few weeks are anything to go by, Middleton Nature Reserve in Heysham is a great place to spot some of the birds that are less common to Lancashire. Visitors heard a green woodpecker calling (only the second record for Middleton Nature Reserve this year), and saw a tree sparrow – an uncommon bird for this area. Other sightings included a female gadwall with young, a young sparrowhawk trying to hunt (and apparently crying like a baby!), the first teal of autumn and the first diving duck of the season: a tufted duck. A green sandpiper was heard calling from the western scrape and there were plenty of dragonflies on the wing, including:

  • Common darter
  • Emperor
  • Black-tailed skimmer
  • Migrant hawker
  • Female brown hawker, ovipositing
The delicate white flowers of round-leaved sundew blooming on top of lush green stems

Round-leaved sundew flowers

Little Woolden Moss

Did you know that round-leaved sundews aren’t only amazing because they’re carnivorous? They also bloom with delicate white flowers in late summer, as you can see above. Our peatlands team was thrilled to spot them on Little Woolden Moss last month.

And that wasn’t all they found. They also spotted a fantastically fluffy yellow-tail moth, a species that flies between May and August and lays its eggs on deciduous trees like oak, hawthorn and blackthorn.

Our Little Woolden Moss volunteer work party was also hard at work translocating cottongrass. This means digging out cottongrass from areas where it forms a thick carpet and transporting it by wheelbarrow to the areas of bare peat, which it will recolonise.

Lunt Meadows

Some of the most numerous wildlife sightings from Lunt Meadows in August were beautiful butterflies. Visitors recorded:

  • Gatekeeper
  • Red admiral
  • Small tortoiseshell
  • Comma
  • Speckled wood
  • Painted lady
  • Meadow brown
  • Large white
  • Green-veined white
  • Common blue
A bittern standing on frosty grass amongst reeds

Bitterns were nearly driven to extinction through loss of their reedbed habitat but numbers are on the rise again by Bob Hurrell

As well as butterflies, the air was busy with birds. Barn owls, marsh harriers and sparrowhawks were seen hunting by lucky visitors and volunteers; a kingfisher was spotted darting over pools populated by great white egrets, ruff, pintails and black-tailed godwits; and a juvenile cuckoo was photographed in flight. Perhaps most excitingly, we were able to reveal the news that this year, bitterns have bred at Lunt Meadows for the first time in its 10-year history – the first breeding attempt in Sefton for around 200 years!

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What have you seen at our nature reserves recently? We’d love to hear all about your wildlife sightings in Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside – click one of the icons below to share them with us on social media.