August

Most of the breeding bird activity is over, but in most years there will be a few terns and and ringed plovers still with dependent young and some broods of tufted ducks may have only just hatched. Many summer visitors will be departing as others from further north move through. At dusk and high tides there may be large roosts of Sandwich and common terns at Ternery Pool or perhaps the odd roseate or black tern. The water levels in the shingle pits are generally lowest at this time of year, providing muddy margins for wading birds. This is the best month for many species including little stint, curlew sandpiper, greenshank, green sandpiper, common sandpiper, ruff, black-tailed godwit and little ringed plover. The populations of ducks on the larger pits also increase as they flock together to moult after the breeding season. These include teal, shoveler and often a few garganey.

The little egret numbers will increase to its autumn peak and there is a good chance of seeing a marsh harrier, hobby and barn owl. In the fields yellow wagtail and wheatear numbers start to build up, whilst the scrub supports increasing numbers of warblers such as whitethroat and willow warbler. Most swifts will have departed by the end of the month. Throughout the month there is a chance of a rarity turning up – these have included semi-palmated sandpiper, red-rumped swallow and gull-billed tern.

The least lettuce continues to flower and late flowering species emerge such as autumn lady’s-tresses, which is common in some years at Castle Water. Many commoner plants will still be in flower such as viper’s bugloss and wild carrot. A great variety of moths will be on the wing including two of our rarest – the Jersey tiger. Commoner species will include large yellow underwing and common rustic. It’s a good time of year to see a variety of bumblebees and grasshoppers including the grey bush-cricket. Many dragonflies will be active including black-tailed skimmers and emperors. Migrant hawkers and ruddy darters are typical autumn species and will be common during the month.