Although we are continuing to make the most of summer, the wheeling screaming swifts are already departing having completed their breeding programme. They are heading south, leaving something of a gap in our summer skies. Martins and swallows, however, will be with us for a good deal longer rearing late broods and keeping thoughts of autumn at bay for awhile yet. For most though, the season of increase is now over but there is still be plenty of wildlife to enjoy as warm days continue.
At this time of year a combination of hot weather and thistle topping makes the pastures look rather dull and bland but a surprising number of invertebrates continue to inhabit the grasslands. On the wildflower grasslands, which are either cut and cleared or grazed later, a wealth of flowering plants attracts a range of butterflies in what is another fairly good summer for them and in these flowery areas very good numbers of butterflies can be seen. If these sometimes rather untidy grasslands are cut and cleared too soon the butterfly life-cycle can be broken as the caterpillars food plants are removed while they are still feeding leading to fewer butterflies the following year.
It is always a pleasure to receive information about the things that people have seen in recent weeks or even photographs to check the identity of a particular species. It also confirms the value of the Sudbury riverside as a habitat of importance for a wide range of creatures. Sometimes, however, the news is not so good but still of interest. For instance, sightings of mink should be reported so that the necessary action can be taken to safeguard our native fauna; in particular the water vole whose continued precarious presence relies on the control of mink.