Welcome to the BBOWT blog

Get an insider's view into the work of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust. Find out what conservation work we're carrying out and meet some of the wonderful people, from our reserves staff to our trainees, that are behind everything we do.

Email updates

Sign up to get new posts in your RSS Reader

Smartphone Safari

Every weekend on BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Oxford we broadcast a Smartphone Safari. Listen along as we explore some of our fantastic reserves and introduce you to the wildlife you can see. 

My Wild Wish

What are your 2018 wishes for wildlife? Take a look at #MyWildWish collection created by the BBOWT team and friends. 

Back to blog listings

Our top 10 wildlife sightings in July

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Posted: Thursday 28th June 2018 by bbowtblog

Roesel's bush-cricket by Kate DentRoesel's bush-cricket by Kate Dent

Summer's in full swing. More wild flowers are blooming, there are butterflies flitting, dragonflies darting and crickets hopping. How many of our 10 species will you see this month?

1 Glow-worms

glow worm

Glow-worms are not worms at all, but the female of a species of a beetle, which live on chalk grassland, heathland or along open woodland rides. Look out for glow-worms this month in reserves along the Chilterns escarpment. The female emits a greenish-yellow glow as she tries to attract her non-glowing mate. 

2 Broad-leaved helleborine

broad-leaved helleborine

Broad-leaved helleborines are the most common and widespread of the helleborines. They grow in deciduous woodland, particularly beechwoods such as those at Warburg Nature Reserve and Pulpit Hill. Did you know, the nectar is thought to have a narcotic effect on the wasps that pollinate these flowers!

3 Meadow brown

meadow brown

Meadow brown butterflies are very common and widespread. Their caterpillars feed on grasses so why not allow an area of your garden to grow long. You may even find some wild flowers appear among the grasses.

These butterflies, particularly female meadow browns, may be confused with gatekeeper butterflies, but those have two white dots on their wings instead of one and tend to rest with their wings open. 

4 Hummingbird hawkmoth

hummingbird hawkmoth

Hummingbird hawkmoths are so named because they resemble a hummingbird as they hover (audibly) to feed on flowers before darting to the next. They prefer to feed on plants with long flowers such as viper’s-bugloss, red valerian, honeysuckle or buddleia. Hummingbird hawkmoths fly during the day and may be seen in gardens. If you do see them in your garden, keep a regular eye out as they’re known to return to the same flowerbeds at the same time of day to feed.

5 Purple emperor

purple emperor

Look at the tree tops in woodland such as Finemere Wood, Rushbeds Wood and Warburg Nature Reserve to see if you can catch a glimpse of a purple emperor, where they feed on honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids or sap from oak trees. You may be lucky to see a male, which has a purple sheen to their wings, come to the ground to feed on moisture and salts found in puddles and animal dung.

6 Crickets and grasshoppers

Roesel's bush-cricket

Grasslands can be filled with the buzzing of crickets and grasshoppers in summer. If you get close enough to see them try this general rule to decide which is which: crickets have long antennae and grasshoppers have short antennae.

7 Small red damselfly

small red damselflies

Small red damselflies are found near heathland bogs, such as at Decoy Heath, and calcareous fens such as Parsonage Moor. They have red legs in contrast to large red damselflies which have black legs. Look for these rare damselflies flying on warm, still days.

8 Bats

long-eared bat

At dusk on warm evenings, look out for bats flying around hunting for insects to eat. You can often spot bats over your garden – a tiny pipistrelle can eat around 3,000 insects every night! Near rivers you may see Daubenton’s bats, which fly low over water to scoop up insects near the surface with their feet or tail.

Learn more about bats with our blog, full of interesting facts.

9 Slow worm

slow worm

Slow worms are actually legless lizards, not worms or snakes. They don’t tend to bask in the sun like other reptiles, instead they stay under log piles or in compost heaps where rotting material provides warmth. If you do see one, don’t try to pick them up, they’re not only a protected species but may shed their tails as a defence mechanism.

10 Stonechats


Look for stonechats perched on the top of bushes, particularly in heathland areas such as those at Greenham Common or Sydlings Copse. The birds are about the size of robins and the males have a distinctive black head and shiny white collar. Their call sounds like two stones being tapped together.

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.

Read bbowtblog's latest blog entries.