Six signs of summer

Wildflower meadow in Dreghorn Woods
Look out for blooming fields of vibrant wildflowers (Photo: WTML)

The beginning of June signals the start of summer and the natural world is buzzing with life. We’ve put together a list of six signs of summer to look out for:

Trees in full leaf

The woodland canopy has closed over and the trees are lovely and green. It’s the perfect time to work on your leaf identification skills! Use our Leaf ID to help you, or our leaf collection sheet, which is just right for little kids.

Summer flowers blooming

Spring flowers such as bluebells are fading fast, to be replaced by summer blooms. Look out for honeysuckle, foxgloves, poppies and common spotted orchids in woodland and along hedgerows. Honeysuckle is especially sweet smelling and bees, butterflies and moths love to feed on its nectar. Did you know that its scent is strongest at night, and moths can detect it a quarter of a mile away?

There are lots of other summer flowers to watch out for too. Why not head out with our summer flowers ID and see how many you can find?

Fledglings learning to fly

At this time of year, baby birds are beginning to leave the nest. Many spend a few days on the ground before they’re ready to take flight. Sometimes people think they’ve fallen out of the nest and try to rescue them, when really the parent bird is watching nearby.

If you see a baby bird on its own, it’s best to leave it alone. However, if it’s on a busy path or road, you can move it a short distance to a safer place. Make sure it’s within hearing distance of its parents though. If you find one in your garden and you have a cat, keep your cat inside until the bird has flown away.

Butterflies all aflutter

Woodlands and gardens come alive with delicate, colourful butterflies fluttering over the nectar-rich flowers. You can attract even more of these beautiful creatures to your garden or window ledge by rustling up a sweet treat:

Just add ¼ cup of sugar to 2 cups of water and heat it up in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. (Get an adult to help you.) Leave it to cool, then soak a brightly-coloured sponge in the mixture and put the soggy sponge on a plate near some flowers. Use our butterfly spotter sheet to identify your visitors.

Bats on the wing

Bats give birth in June so they’re pretty busy hunting for insects to provide food. A summer evening is a great time to spot them darting and swooping through the air. You’re most likely to see them in woodlands and near rivers or ponds.

Stag beetles out and about

One insect the bats won’t be catching is the stag beetle. These huge, black creatures measure 30-75cmm long – bigger than some bats – and the male looks like it has huge antlers on its head, although they’re actually its jaws!

Stag beetles spend several years underground as larvae before emerging to breed at around the beginning of June. They’re one of our most endangered insects so, if you see one on the pavement, you should pick it up gently by its middle and move it to a safe place.

You’ll start to see lots more flying insects around this time of year too, but none of them are as big as the stag beetle! Check out our flying insects spotter sheet to help you identify them.

Don’t forget to tell us about your summer spots in the comments below or on our Facebook page. You can share your photos on Instagram and Twitter using #NatureDetectives too.

Which summer signs have you spotted?

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