Three places to visit in August Conwy Mountain A good walk from the walled town below (or an easy one from the small car park on the
There’s plenty of wildlife across the region in August, says Julian Hughes, if you know where to look.
Sychnant Pass), Mynydd y Dref looks fantastic in August, with the yellows of the dwarf gorse
interspersed among purple
This month our hillsides are clothed in purple, at least
heather. Shallow pools dotted
where they are not grazed too heavily by sheep. There
around the hill are home to
are three types of wild heather in North Wales: the
dragonflies, including upland
dark pink flowers of Bell Heather (named from their bell-shaped petals) and the pale pink
species such as Golden-ringed
Cross-leaved Heath have been in bloom through the summer, the latter favouring wet boggy
Dragonfly and Black Darter
uplands. In August, the tiny pink flowers of Ling Heather bloom on hills and coastal cliffs; the
that are usually found at
plant was used to stuff mattresses and sweep floors in centuries past.
higher altitudes. Credit: Charles J Sharp
Hoverfly heaven Not all black-and-yellow insects are wasps or bees. Many hoverflies wear the same colours, to avoid becoming another animal’s lunch, but with no
Point of Ayr, Talacre The mouth of the Dee estuary is one of the most important sites in North Wales for
sting, they are totally harmless. They are valuable
wading birds, especially in
pollinators and have a big appetite for aphids such
late summer. An RSPB viewing
as greenfly, so welcome them into your garden. There are over 280 hoverfly species
shelter overlooks the muddy
in Britain, the most abundant being the orange-coloured Marmalade Hoverfly. You
feeding areas, best visited
can identify it by the pencil-thin ‘moustache’ stripes along the edge of its abdomen
an hour or so either side
sections, known as tergites.
of high tide, which brings Oystercatchers, Ringed Plovers Credit: Zeynel Cebeci
and Dunlin closer to land. Look out for terns feeding offshore too before they head for west Africa. Alyn Waters Country Park,
Green for go
Watch out for jellyfish
Warmer water brings jellyfish onto our coastlines in August, which can be found in the shallows or washed up on beaches. Barrel Jellyfish grow up to a metre across and are common in the Irish Sea, but most such as Moon Jellyfish and Compass Jellyfish are around 20cm in diameter. They are beautiful creatures, but some can sting so don’t touch even if you think they’re dead. And let’s bust the fun myth that the Welsh word for jellyfish is Pysgod Wibliwobli – it is Sglefren fôr.
Following the short Arctic summer, wading birds are flooding through North Wales in August, their parental duties over and the juveniles not far behind. Waders depend on our muddy estuaries and coastal pools to probe for food as they rest after the first leg of their journey, continuing south after a day or two. Some occur in hundreds, but others such as Greenshanks are scarcer. Look out for their long greenish legs and bill, clean white back and tail in flight, and trisyllabic ‘tiu-tiu-tiuoo’ call.
Wrexham As well as all the amenities on the Gwersyllt side of the park, the quieter Llay side includes a Local Nature Reserve in which you can find scarce orchids such as Common Twayblade that flower in late summer, and the largest population of Dune Helleborines in the world!
Julian Hughes grew up in North Wales, which instilled a lifelong love of nature. He lives near Llandudno, manages the RSPB’s public affairs work in Wales, and writes about the region’s wildlife.
NWM 2019 Page 89