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Our top 10 wildlife sightings in June

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Posted: Thursday 31st May 2018 by bbowtblog

wildlife to see in JuneBee orchid by John Morris, southern hawker by Brian Walker, stag beetle by Margaret Holland

It's early summer; orchids are blooming across Berks, Bucks and Oxon. Insects are flying and it's a great time to get outside and discover our local wildlife. How many of our 10 species will you see this month?

1 Bee orchid

bee orchid

These beautiful orchids are named after their flowers, which are said to resemble a bumblebee. Often orchid flowers resemble the species of insect that is needed to pollinate the flowers, but in the UK bee orchids self-pollinate. You may find bee orchids at our nature reserves on chalk grassland in the Chilterns, such as Aston Clinton Ragpits or Warburg Nature Reserve

2 Elderflowers


Masses of frothy white flowerheads cover elder trees in June. The flowers provide nectar for a variety of insects. Later in the year the masses of dark berries are eaten by birds and small mammals. It was once believed that elder trees warded off evil spirits or witches, so they were planted near houses to keep them safe!

3 Chalk fragrant-orchid

fragrant orchids

Chalk fragrant-orchids are richly-scented, with a long, cylindrical flower spike. Aston Clinton Ragpits, near Wendover, is renowned for its striking display of thousands of chalk fragrant-orchids at this time of year.

4 Pyramidal orchid

pyramidal orchid

Pyramidal orchids are fairly widespread in the UK, you often see them growing in roadside verges as well as chalk grassland, their more typical habitat. The flower spikes have a distinctive pyramidal shape, made up of many individual flowers ranging in colour from pale to deep pink. These orchids are pollinated by day- and night-flying moths, and butterflies.

5 Black hairstreak

black hairstreak

Black hairstreaks are on of the UK’s rarest butterflies, found only in thickets of blackthorn in woodlands and along hedgerows, between Oxford and Peterborough. This includes several BBOWT nature reserves, such as Finemere Wood, Rushbeds Wood, Whitecross Green Wood, Asham Meads and Bernwood Meadows. Black hairstreaks lay their eggs on mature blackthorn. BBOWT manages blackthorn hedges carefully so that there is always a variety of height and depth within a hedgerow, from new shoots to mature trees.

6 Speckled wood

speckled wood

In contrast to the black hairstreak, speckled wood butterflies are fairly common. Look for them flying in dappled sunlight in woodland. The adult butterflies rarely feed on flowers, instead they feed on honeydew which is a sweet liquid produced by aphids.

7 Nightjar


Nightjars migrate to the UK every year from sub-Saharan Africa to breed. They’re here from May to September and the best time to see, or more usually, hear them, is now! The birds are most active at dusk, when they catch flying insects in mid-air. The male nightjars call for mates by churring loudly from the tops of trees. Simon Claybourn explains more about these remarkable birds, including how and why we survey nightjars every spring, in his blog

8 Otter


Keep an eye out for otters if you’re walking along the River Thames this summer. The Thames Path through Chimney Meadows nature reserve is a good place to catch a glimpse of them, or spot their spraint.

9 Stag beetle

stag beetle

Look out for stag beetles flying around on warm evenings in June. These are one of our largest beetles. They’re named after the males’ large jaws, which are said to resemble the antlers of a stag. The adults are short-lived (no more than a couple of months) but their larvae spend several years hidden underground where they feed on rotting wood. 

10 Southern hawker

southern hawker

Southern hawkers are large dragonflies, which emerge from ponds as adults from June onwards. You may see them flying right through into the autumn if the weather is good enough. They are a common dragonfly of ponds, lakes and canals, particularly near to woodland. Hawkers are the largest and fastest flying dragonflies; they hover, catch their insect-prey mid-air, and even fly backwards!

Things to do

  • See which of our nature reserves are at their best this month.
  • Find a nature reserve near you with the Wildilfe Trusts' Nature Finder app for iphone and Android
  • Share your photos of our reserves with us on Twitter and Facebook or upload them to our Flickr gallery
  • Oxfordshire photographer Andrew Marshall's book Photographing wildlife in the UK (published by Fotovue) includes advice on how to take great wildlife photographs. The book includes top locations for photographing wildlife and some images that were taken on BBOWT nature reserves (Greenham Common, Chimney Meadows, Foxholes and College Lake).
  • Sign up to our e-newsletter and stay up-to-date with our news about local wildlife
  • Our experts work with over 1,400 volunteers to look after over 80 nature reserves, four education centres and run hundreds of amazing events. We rely on the generosity of individuals, charitable trusts and businesses. Help us look after these precious places for your local wildlife by donating today.

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