JULY GOES WILD!
Four phenomena to brighten your walks this month.
July is boomtime for the shrubs and flowers of the UK coastline. For colour, head to Norfolk, where the sea lavender will be bringing a gentle mauve glow to the Norfolk Coast Path, particularly between Wells and Cromer. And for edibility, head to the coasts of Kent, Essex and Devon, where you should find succulent green marsh samphire (pictured), beloved of Masterchef contestants and also known as Mermaid’s Kiss. Just tread carefully though, and try not to damage the mud and marsh that nourish them. More at www.wildlifetrusts.org
Not all UK fungi are actually beautiful, but chanterelles are, even down to the sonorous name. With their elegant gills and apricot scent, they are genuine treats to find in the woods. They are edible, but beware of the two insidious lookey-likeys: jack o’ lantern and false chanterelle, both of which are toxic. Our advice is to lay off the scoffing unless you’re with an expert, and just enjoy the beauty. More at www.mushroomdiary.co.uk
It’s also the best time of year to see these busy little beasts in all their finery. Almost any lake or pond during July should be home to at least one of the most common UK species, such as brown hawker, southern hawker and common darter, as well as rarer beauties like the banded demoiselle (pictured). Hawkers are the largest and fastest flying dragonflies; they catch their insect prey mid-air and can hover and fly backwards. Show-offs. www.britishdragonflies.org.uk
* Tries to avoid Jaws music * The warming inshore waters of the UK are a happy summer hunting ground for these 12m-long eating machines, which spend the rest of the year out in the Atlantic. Their distinctive dorsal and caudal (tail) fins can be spotted off the Hebrides, Pembrokeshire and South West England as they chase down their favourite prey, zooplankton. Find out more at www. sharktrust.org