Kate Humble: Late summer’s a perfect time to glimpse bats swooping low

RSPB wildlife expert Kate Humble
RSPB wildlife expert Kate Humble

By late summer, especially when we’ve enjoyed wonderfully hot temperatures, the colour begins to dull and fade.

Wildlife can still be colourful – and busy, too, particularly around the pond. Watch out for damselflies, identified by their slender bodies, and the larger dragonflies, flying around the lily pads that provide a perfect place for them to lay their eggs.

For the green-fingered among you, now is a good time to plant marigolds. Place them in sunny positions around plants such as tomatoes and peppers. Marigolds are perfect at attracting hoverflies, the harmless mimic of the wasp, and ladybirds to eat the greenfly that nibble on leaves.

Try to hold back on trimming hedges if you can so that any late birds’ nests aren’t disturbed and wildlife can still shelter and feed in peace.

August is prime bat-watching season with numbers reaching their peak at this time. On a dry night, around dusk, get out to see these tiny, vulnerable creatures in action.

The most common bat visitors to gardens are the pipistrelles, who loop and wheel about at low levels, eating those annoying biting midges and tiny insects.

They catch the insects using the tiniest of echoes and squeaks; this echo system ensures they will never get caught in any one’s hair, despite the popular fear!

Apart from squabbling house sparrow families or starlings, feeders can often be eerily quiet at this time of year because plenty of natural food is available.

Only put out as much food as is being eaten so as not to attract any unwanted visitors, like rats!

With temperatures still high it’s important to keep watering the plants that need it.

Use “grey” water from washing your veg or even from your bath. And keep bird baths topped-up too. A saucer with water on the floor could also provide some welcome refreshment for a thirsty hedgehog.

The RSPB has recently launched it’s biggest-ever campaign, Giving Nature a Home. To find out more, and to get your free guide, visit the RSPB website.