Latest wildlife sightings – June 2019

With the arrival of summer comes a literal buzz of new life across Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, from humming dragonflies to busy bees.

There is so much to see right across our region at the moment, so take a look at our latest wildlife sightings for June and plan your next outdoor adventure.

Brockholes Nature Reserve

It’s been all go at Brockholes, especially in the insect world. Our visitors have spotted:

  • Rosemary beetle
  • Alder beetle
  • Banded demoiselle
  • Mining bees
  • Bumble bees
  • Wasp beetle
  • Ladybirds
  • Weevils
  • Golden-bloomed grey longhorn beetle (wow!)
  • Snipe fly (a fierce predator of other insects)
  • Ghost moth
  • Burnet moths

Most excitingly, the white-letter hairstreak hunt has begun! These lovely little butterflies are on the wing for just a few weeks each year, so if you want to see one, head to Brockholes ASAP.

Brockholes is also a fantastic place to see birds at the moment. Sedge warblers, oystercatchers, willow warblers and little ringed plovers are all enjoying the reserve, and hobbies have been seen hunting over Boilton Marsh. Ospreys were spotted fishing in the pools, kingfishers have been showing well, and we’ve also had large numbers of swifts hunting over the pools, which is amazing news given their national decline.

A poplar hawkmoth at Mere Sands Wood nature reserve

Poplar hawkmoth by Charlotte Varela

Mere Sands Wood

The moth trapping event we ran at Mere Sands Wood was a wonderful way to open up the secretive world of these (mostly) night-going insects to visitors. A cold night meant we caught fewer species than normal, but highlights included:

- Setaceous Hebrew character
- Light emerald
- Poplar hawkmoth
- Heart and dart
- Map-winged swift

Elsewhere on the reserve, visitors enjoyed lovely views of reed warblers, common terns, and even a juvenile kingfisher outside Rufford Hide.

Cross Hill Quarry

You know summer has arrived when the orchids come out at Cross Hill Quarry. June saw common spotted orchids and northern marsh orchid spikes unfurl their petals, as well as plenty of twayblades. These orchids might not be as showy as their pink and purple cousins, but they are no less beautiful.

Freshfield Dune Heath

Freshfield Dune Heath is a lovely place to spend a summer afternoon, and as the single largest lowland heath site in the North West of England, it is a fascinating remnant of an incredibly rare habitat. In fact, Freshfield Dune Heath actually makes up 9% of the national total of lowland heath.

Being close to the coast, June saw an influx of painted lady butterflies, which were seen fluttering above the vegetation alongside beautiful small copper butterflies. Goldcrests and red squirrels were spotted in the reserve’s patch of pine woodland, while some lucky visitors have had fleeting glimpses of common lizards dashing from their basking spots.

A grey seal swimming and hunting flounder in Heysham harbour

A grey seal hunting flounder in Heysham harbour, by Malcolm Downham

Heysham harbour

Is there any sight as wonderful on a daily ‘sea watch’ as a grey seal hunting flounder? This gorgeous animal is one of quite a few grey seal sightings over recent weeks.

June also brought large numbers of eider ducks into the low channels, as well as decent numbers of bar-tailed godwits. Two whimbrel were spotted in the skeer and a huge influx of painted lady butterflies landed in the harbour, having flown here all the way from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East and central Asia. Around 100 were resting along the south harbour wall one morning!

One of the best June sightings at Heysham harbour was a rock pipit feeding a chick near the power station. Not only that, but males were also seen displaying (parachuting) over Ocean Edge saltmarsh.

Heysham Nature Reserve

Heysham harbour isn’t the only place to spot wildlife on the Lancashire coast. Heysham Nature Reserve is also a wonderful place to get close to nature. Hobbies were spotted hunting in June, while small heath butterflies (very scarce here last year) and burnet companion moths were photographed on more than one occasion.

Middleton Nature Reserve

Sunny days at Middleton Nature Reserve brought out a wonderful plethora of dragonflies. Here are just a handful of the species on the wing:

  • Black-tailed skimmer
  • Four-spotted chaser
  • Broad-bodied chaser
  • Emperor
  • Red-veined darter

A pair of stock doves were also spotted at Middleton, and visitors had the pleasure of listening to the reeling of a grasshopper warbler, so keep your eyes peeled and ears pricked on your next visit.

An avocet wading through a pool at Lunt Meadows nature reserve

Lunt Meadows

True to form, Lunt Meadows was absolutely full of life throughout June. Waders like avocets and little ringed plovers were tending their young, while two Cetti’s warblers sung from different parts of the reserve. Summer visitors like whitethroats and sedge warblers were busy singing and collecting food for their chicks, and more and more dragonflies emerged to enjoy the sunshine. Black-tailed skimmers and broad-bodied chasers were spotted flying alongside damselflies including large reds and banded demoiselles.

Seaforth Nature Reserve

The dragonfly bonanza didn’t end at Lunt Meadows – red-veined darters and black-tailed skimmers have been delighting visitors to Seaforth with their aerial acrobatics. The reserve’s birdlife was also a star attraction in June, with common sandpipers, arctic terns and linnets showing really well.

One of our favourite things about summer at Seaforth Nature Reserve, however, is the plantlife. Stop and admire grassland brimming with bee orchid, yellow wort, selfheal and more stunning wildflowers.

Little Woolden Moss

With June, of course, came 30 Days Wild, and to celebrate The Wildlife Trusts wonderful annual nature challenge, local birding legend, Dave Steel, embarked on a month of fantastic forays into the wildness of our Little Woolden Moss nature reserve. Little Woolden is fantastic for everything from insects to birds, and Dave spotted yellow wagtails, skylarks, snipe, curlew, meadow pipits, yellowhammers and a gorgeous hobby. You can read all about his adventures here.

Have you spotted anything exciting at one of our nature reserves? We love seeing your pictures and hearing all about what you’ve seen on your walks, so why not tell us all about your sightings on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

What to see during summer