BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild July -


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.

Dart­ford war­bler

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.

Sand lizard

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.

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