SPECIES TO LOOK OUT FOR
Most easily seen at dusk and dawn – when the churring males are either holding territory or hawking for insect food – the nightjar, in flight, has the look of a camouflaged kestrel. These summer migrants are with us for just a few months before leaving for a winter in central and southern Africa.
This diminutive heathland specialist ( right) is easily identified by its long tail, domed head and wine-red underparts. Frequently skulking, the best way to see this residential insectivore is in those moments when it breaks cover to perch atop a shrub, cutting a dapper figure with its tail cocked and crown feathers raised.
A surprisingly short and stocky snake, while the adder’s background colour may vary, there’s no mistaking the dark zig-zag pattern along its back. Saving its venom for lizards, small mammals and ground-nesting birds, in preference to humans, this shy and retiring reptile will always opt to slither from conflict.
Larger, heavier and more handsomely marked than its common cousin, the sand lizard is confined to a handful of sand dune systems and southern heaths. The gaudy green flanks of the males in breeding season are a wonderful sight, but they can be tougher to spot in summer.
Silver-studded blue butterfly
Frequently active on even the hottest days of high summer, the silvery-blue wings of the male butterflies are an uplifting sight as they flit low over the heather. The less conspicuous females are brown, but both sexes of this heathland insect have the trademark metallic spots on their hindwings.