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Wildlife - August

A wonderful month for butterflies, particularly 'blues' with Adonis and Chalkhill Blues on the wing. The very local Lulworth Skipper is abundant on the coarser grass. Day-flying moths may include Silver Y and the fast-flying Oak Eggar.

Striped-winged Grasshoppers 'wheeze' in the short turf.

Numerous migrant birds also occur, with Whitethroats and Willow Warblers particularly common. Garden Warblers and Blackcaps also feed on berries and seed heads of Wild Parsnip and Hogweed. Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails and Tree Pipits feed in the open grassland before setting off on the long flight to Africa. Overhead, Africa-bound Sand Martins and Swifts may attract the attention of a passing Hobby.

Specialist autumn flowers include Autumn Lady's Tresses, purple Felwort and the strange Carline Thistle. In the meadows Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers rest on late-flowering plants, Pepper Saxifrage, Agrimony, Greater Knapweed, Fleabane and Corky-Fruited Water Dropwort.

Along the hedgerows, the strident song of the huge Great Green Bush-cricket can be heard along with the softer refrain of the Dark Bush-cricket. Purple spikes of Tufted Vetch provide nectar for Bumble Bees and the occasional Humming-bird Hawk-moth.

In the woods, Holly Blues, Speckled Woods and the rare Purple Hairstreak may be seen.

Migrant Spotted and Pied Flycatchers feed on the rich crop of woodland insects which also provide a tasty meal for Long-tailed Tits and Treecreepers. The ringing calls of Green Woodpeckers echo through the trees while late- fledging Sparrowhawk chicks beg noisily for food.

Most nesting seabirds have left the cliffs, but Fulmars still have young to fledge. Out at sea, passing Gannets and Terns may be harrassed by piratical Arctic Skuas. Mediterranean and Sooty Shearwaters may also skim past while flocks of returning waders head down-channel. Peregrines are usually encountered but Dolphins are generally scarce at this time of year.

Many clifftop flowers are at their best, particularly Golden Samphire, Rock Samphire and Sea Aster. Grey Bush-crickets 'sing' from the scrubby areas, while numerous hoverflies, bees, wasps and beetles prefer the sunnier open sites.

Migrant butterfly species may include Clouded Yellow and Painted Lady.

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Chalkhill Blue at Durlston
Chalkhill Blue. Photo: Dom Greves

Lulworth Skipper III 
Lulworth Skipper. Photo: Dom Greves

Great Green Bush Cricket
Great Green Bush Cricket. Photo: DCP