Latest wildlife sightings – June 2021

Latest wildlife sightings – June 2021

With the sun shining and spring beginning to melt into summer, there was no better place to while away June than our nature reserves, especially with so much wildlife to see.

From bird baby booms to dragonfly dances and wildflower wonders, here are the best of our June wildlife sightings.


We were thrilled to see the first common tern chicks hatch on the tern rafts at Brockholes in May, and last month, six more joined them! By the end of June we had nine chicks in total – three pairs of parents with three chicks each – with other pairs still sitting on eggs. The chicks on our live tern camera are looking more and more like adults by the day, so make sure you tune in to see them before they fledge.

The common terns weren’t the only babies thriving at Brockholes nature reserve in Preston. Juvenile whitethroats were being fed by doting parents and the footpaths filled with tiny froglets and toadlets taking their first leap out of their nursery pools – watch your step!

Some of the best places to spot wildlife at Brockholes in June were the grassland areas, where bee orchids bloomed and five and six-spot burnet moths seemed to cling to every flower-head. Linnets busied themselves feeding on dock seeds and a barn owl was spotted hunting over Boilton Marsh. There was plenty to see on the lakes, too, with a green sandpiper, snipe and curlews on Number One Pit.

A marsh harrier flying across a clear blue sky

Marsh harrier at Mere Sands Wood by Barry Palmer

Mere Sands Wood

Birds and insects were the order of the day at Mere Sands Wood in June. Song thrushes filled the woodland with a joyful chorus of song while a much more inconspicuous tawny owl was spotted by photographer, Barry Palmer, perched on a lofty tree branch. Barry was also lucky enough to catch a majestic marsh harrier soaring over our Rufford nature reserve!

The insect sightings were just as impressive: black-tailed skimmer dragonflies; large skipper, speckled wood and red admiral butterflies; buff-tailed, white-tailed and tree bumblebees; and scorpion flies. Though the scorpion-like tail of the males might look threatening, it’s completely harmless and is used to ‘clasp’ the female during mating.

Warton Crag

You can always rely on Warton Crag for a butterfly bonanza at this time of year. Our spectacular limestone paradise came alive with lovely Lepidoptera last month, including speckled woods, common blues and the rare small pearl-bordered fritillaries the reserve is so famous for. But butterflies weren’t the only draw – the landscape filled with chimney sweeper and cinnabar moths, too, while one lucky visitor spotted a minotaur beetle and a roe deer.

A golden-bloomed grey longhorn beetle sitting on someone's fingers

Golden-bloomed grey longhorn beetle at Astley Moss

Astley Moss

The invertebrate delights continued on Astley Moss in Greater Manchester. Our conservation team spotted angle shades and common carpet moths resting amongst the vegetation, a golden-bloomed grey longhorn beetle and a striking common sexton beetle resplendent in black and orange. Sexton beetles are incredible insects – the undertakers of the animal kingdom. Males and females pair up on top of the corpse of a dead animal and fight off rivals to take charge of it. They’ll then bury it, and the female lays her eggs either on or beside the corpse, so her larvae can feast on it when they hatch.

Cadishead Moss

We had some very exciting news from Cadishead Moss in June – the bogbean that Josh Styles of the North West Rare Plant Initiative translocated last year is emerging and doing well! We can’t wait to watch it grow further.

A beautiful demoiselle damselfly resting on the tufty heads of grass

Beautiful demoiselle by Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Middleton Nature Reserve

The air at Middleton Nature Reserve still rung with warbler song in June, with Cetti’s, garden, willow and reed warblers singing alongside chiffchaffs, blackcaps and common and lesser whitethroats. But they weren’t the only animals on the wing – the grassland filled with moths including Mother Shipton, burnet companion and the wonderful colours of cinnabar and five-spot burnet moths. Skimmer dragonflies dominated the main pond and a beautiful demoiselle was spotted by one lucky volunteer! It was lovely to see a female gadwall being followed by her four chicks, too.

Heysham harbour

June was a much quieter month at Heysham harbour, with the usual little egrets, lapwings, linnets, curlews and oystercatchers going about their business. That said, there were still some exciting visitors.

Heysham Bird Observatory volunteers were thrilled to see a stunning male eider duck in eclipse on the skeer. ‘Eclipse’ plumage is worn by male birds for around a month in summer after breeding, so-called because it ‘eclipses’ their usual bright plumage. They soon moult and are flightless until they grow new feathers. Volunteers also heard a grasshopper warbler singing next to the Power Station and spotted a red kite soaring high over the south wall.

The rock pipits were really active in June, carrying food to nests and feeding their fledglings. Grey seals paid occasional visits to the outflows, where they tucked into flounder, and a puffin was spotted during a seawatch.

Heysham Nature Reserve

Heysham Nature Reserve entered full summer-mode in June, with bee orchids blooming and swollen-thighed beetles gorging on pollen. Moths and butterflies filled the air here, too, with five-spot burnet and burnet companion moths and common blue, small skipper and large skipper butterflies all on the wing.

A common tern chick opening its mouth for food while an egg lies unhatched behind it

Common tern chick at Seaforth nature reserve


June was a busy month at Seaforth! As well as a very exciting visit from a rosy starling this little nature reserve in Merseyside saw a huge influx of common terns, which breed on the tern rafts and have successfully raised a great number of chicks this year. In fact, Seaforth nature reserve sees about 1 per cent of the UK population of common terns (around 180 pairs) annually, making it one of the largest colonies in northern England.

Unfortunately we noticed that June wind speeds have been increasing in recent years, which made our tern rafts more unstable and put the common tern eggs and chicks at risk. Thankfully, funding from Natural England, Veolia and Peel Ports has enabled us to install new anchors and anchor lines designed to cope with the windier weather, so the terns can still breed safely.

What have you seen on 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.