From wildlife spectacles to celestial events, here’s your guide to experiencing the best of what nature has to offer. Here’s what to discover in July.

Wildlife:

Bird Watching: July is a fantastic time for bird watching in the UK. Look out for swifts, swallows, and house martins as they swoop through the skies, catching insects. You might also spot young birds, such as robins and blackbirds, leaving their nests for the first time.

Ospreys: July is an excellent time to observe ospreys in the UK, especially around freshwater lakes and rivers. These magnificent birds of prey, known for their fishing skills, are raising their chicks. The RSPB says key locations, include Rutland Water, the Scottish Highlands, and the Lake District.​

Insect Spotting: This month, the butterfly population flourishes. Species like the peacock, red admiral, and painted lady can be seen in gardens and countryside everywhere. Additionally, dragonflies and damselflies are abundant around ponds and rivers, providing a dazzling aerial display.

Marine Life: Along the coast, July is prime time for spotting seals, particularly along the shores of Norfolk and Cornwall. Rock pooling at low tide can reveal a variety of marine creatures, such as crabs, starfish, and anemones. Find out more from the Wildlife Trust, they will be celebrating National Marine Week (27th July – 11th August).

Reptile Sightings: If you see a lizard in Britain, it’s likely to be the common lizard. The UK hosts five species of lizards and snakes: two native to us, two introduced, and one found exclusively in Ireland. Female common lizards are currently laden with eggs, having mated in spring. They spend long periods basking on rocks, fences, or open ground to warm their swollen bellies. The eggs hatch internally, and the brood of half-a-dozen little black lizards is ‘born’ this month or next​.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: This fascinating moth, often mistaken for a hummingbird, can be seen darting between flowers in gardens. Mostly found near nectar-rich plants like Valerian, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, and Buddleia.

Flying Ants: On warm, still days in July, you might encounter swarms of flying ants taking to the skies for their annual mating flight. This phenomenon, known as “Flying Ant Day,” usually coincides with a period of hot and humid weather. Winged males and queens leave their nests to mate in flight. After mating, queens land to start new colonies, shedding their wings, while the males typically die shortly after​​.

Be Kind to Snakes: Celebrate ‘World Snakes Day’ on July 16th by learning about and appreciating these often-misunderstood creatures. The UK is home to the adder, grass snake, and smooth snake. These reptiles play a crucial role in the ecosystem and deserve our respect and protection.

Garden Activities for Families:

Grow Your Own: July is ideal for harvesting home-grown fruits and vegetables. Engage the kids in picking ripe strawberries, raspberries, and tomatoes. It’s also a great time to plant fast-growing crops like radishes and lettuce.

Wildlife Gardens: Create a wildlife-friendly garden by making a bee hotel or a simple bird feeder. Encourage children to help build these and watch as nature comes to visit. You can also plant nectar-rich flowers to attract butterflies and bees​. You can find simple instructions on Natural History Museum Website.

Gardening Fun: Create a sunflower house or set up a garden scavenger hunt to keep children entertained and engaged with nature.

Celestial Events:

Night Skies: July offers stunning night sky views, perfect for family stargazing. Look out for the Delta Aquariid meteor shower, peaking around the 28th-29th of July. Saturn also becomes more visible, providing an excellent opportunity to introduce kids to the wonders of our solar system.

Moon Gazing: This month’s full moon, known as the Buck Moon, appears on Sunday, July 21st. The buck moon is often considered a time of growth, renewal, and regeneration, as bucks shed their antlers each year and grow new ones.

Nature Walks and Seaside Adventures:

Forest Trails: Explore local woods and forests to see the lush summer foliage and perhaps catch a glimpse of deer or foxes. Nature trails are perfect for family walks, offering both exercise and education. Whether you’re planning a short stroll or a multi-day hike, you’ll find lots of information on this The National Trails website.

Coastal Walks: The seaside is bustling with life in July. Collect shells, build sandcastles, and observe the bustling rock pools. Coastal paths provide stunning views and a chance to spot seabirds like puffins and gannets. Countryfile website has a list of creatures to spot.

Wildflower Meadows: Meadows are in full bloom, making it an ideal time for a walk among the wildflowers. Look for species like poppies, cornflowers, and daisies. These areas are also havens for butterflies and bees​. Find one to explore near you with the Wildlife Trust’s list.

Top Nature Spots:

Ramsey Island, Wales: Famous for its Atlantic Grey Seal colony, choughs, and seabirds like guillemots and Manx shearwaters.

Portmore Lough, Northern Ireland: A sensory delight with meadow flowers, butterflies, and swallows feasting on flying insects.

Insh Marshes, Scotland: Home to curlews, redshanks, lapwings, goldeneye, and fishing ospreys.

Winnats Pass, England: A hilly pass and limestone gorge nestled in the heart of the Peak District.

 

Events and Challenges:

Plastic Challenge: Take part in the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge to reduce your plastic footprint. This initiative encourages individuals and families to minimize their use of single-use plastics throughout July. Learn more and join the challenge on their website.

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2024: Celebrate art and conservation at the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2024 exhibition. This event showcases incredible wildlife art, raising funds and awareness for endangered species. Discover more about the exhibition on their website.

July is a month of vibrant life and beauty in nature, offering endless opportunities for family adventures and activities. Whether you’re gardening, exploring wildlife, or simply gazing at the stars, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

 

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Resources for Teachers and Families

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For even more exploration of the natural world, tune in to our “Stories, Science, and Secrets” podcast for kids.  Join Matthew, Elaine, Steve Punt, and special guests, as we delve into the fascinating world of biomimicry and the inspiring ways science learns from nature’s genius.