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What to look out for in August...

Bats

Sit outside on a warm summer evening and you are very likely to spot a bat flittering overhead. Pipistrelle bats are commonly seen hunting in our gardens, brown long eared bats around hedgerows, Daubenton's bats hunt over rivers and noctule bats high up in the tree canopies. 

Bats 'see' their surroundings and locate prey using echolocation - a series of clicks are sent out by the bat which bouce back off objects, allowing the bat to navigate.

If you are able to get hold of a bat detector, you will be able to identify what species you have seen by recording the species specific calls.

Swallow roosts

Swallows will be congregating ready for their long journey back to South Africa around now. Look out for their pre-migratory roosts as they gather in reedbeds and on wires. When they leave they travel up to 200 miles a day, feeding on the wing as they go. Migration can be very risky for the birds, with many succumbing to starvation or exhaustion.

Stag beetles

The first sight of a male stag beetle can be somewhat alarming. These clumsy beetles grow up to 6cm long with enormous jaws in relation to their body. These jaws are actully very weak and harmless to humans, being used instead like antlers to fend of rival males. The female is much smaller than the male and has smaller jaws which are used for burying eggs in the rotten wood they are laid on.

Male stag beetles are usually seen on warm summer evenings. If you see a stag beetle in Suffolk, please report it to the Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service

Reptiles

The summer months are a good time to spot reptiles basking in the morning sunshine, although you need to have luck on your side as they are not common and can be difficult to spot. We have four species of reptiles in Suffolk, grass snakes, adders, slow worms and common lizards. Look out for grass snakes basking near water or a compost heap (their favourite breeding grounds). Slow worms and common lizards can be found in most habitats where they can find invertebrates to feed on, and adders prefer woodland or heathland. If you spot a reptile please report your sighting here.

Adder
The adder is a relatively small, stocky snake growing to approximately 60 cm. Adders vary in colour, but they are readily identified by a thick, black or brown zig-zag stripe running all the way along the back. The background coloration of males is generally grey, strongly contrasting with the black zig-zag stripe; females tend to be brown, sometimes chestnut brown. Young adders can also be chestnut brown. Occasionally black adders are found in Suffolk.

Common (viviparous) lizard
Adults grow to 13-15cm. Markings and coloration are variable but most are brown. Males usually have darker flecks, females often have stripes running along the back. Very occasionally green or black lizards can be found. Newborn young are very dark, appearing black from a distance.

Slow-worm
Adults grow to 35-40 cm. They are grey or brown. Females and younger and animals generally have darker flanks and sometimes a dark line running along the back. Some males have small, slate-blue spots. The scales are smooth, giving a polished, metallic appearance. As a lizard, the slow-worm can shed its tail in an attempt to escape a predator. Re-growth of the tail is poor, resulting in short, dark, stumpy tails in some animals.

Grass snake
Grass snakes can grow to a large size, some females reaching 90 cm or more, but most are smaller than this. Coloration ranges from dull, olive green to much more vivid shades. Behind the head is a white/cream/yellow collar which is bordered to the rear by contrasting black markings. There is a series of bars running along the flanks and some snakes also have black markings along the back. The distinctiveness of markings varies between animals – some appear uniformly black at a quick glance.

Bees

Many species of bee and bumblebee will be active now. Bees can be split into two groups: social bees and solitary bees. All bumblebees and honeybees are social bees. Examples of solitary bees are the leaf cutter bee and the tawny mining bee.

Find out more about bees and bumblebees..