What you might see on aLocal strollin Summer

Lots of us have been exploring our local area. We're walking and cycling in countryside near to home more than usual while we can't travel further afield. Here are a few things to look out for this summer that you can spot almost anywhere: in fields, in woods or by water. Birds, animals, flowers, trees and insects all help make our daily walk more interesting. And if you need to stay at home and isolate, check out the Wildlife Trusts' webcams. You can watch all kinds of birds - Dorset barn owls or puffins on Alderney - from the comfort of your sofa.

  • County: in Summer
  • Great for: animals | birds | flowers | insects | trees |
  • Refreshments: eat at home
  • Please note: Stay safe and local. Follow NHS guidelines on social distancing. This was researched/updated in May 2020. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 4. In the Woods

    If you go down to the woods today, you may not see picnicking teddy bears, but you’ll find summer flowers and woodland birds. And trees, of course.

    • Woodland flowers in summer include the striking purple spires of foxgloves and sweet-smelling wreathes of honeysuckle. Look out for the delicate pink flowers of herb robert or the white flowers and tiny red berries of a wild strawberry.
    • Birds – Listen out for the drumming noise of a great spotted woodpecker, hammering the bark. It’s a striking black and white bird with a patch of red under the tail. You might also spot a nuthatch. It has a blue grey back, paler underside and distinctive eye-stripe, creeping up the tree trunks. These shy birds featured in the first episode of this year’s Springwatch; the baby nuthatches left the nest with the webcam just before the show began.
    • Trees – If you don’t know a beech from a birch, now is a great time to study them. The leaves are out and offering shade for woodland walkers. The Woodland Trust offers an app to help you identify the different species or a simple A to Z guide.
  1. 5. By the water

    Lots of us have lakes, streams or rivers nearby. Particular flowers and waterbirds thrive in wet and marshy places.

    • Birds – Tall grey herons, black coots (with white beaks) or moorhens (with red and yellow beaks) are all fairly common around Britain’s waterways. Swans, ducks and geese can also be seen at this time of year with ridiculously fluffy babies or gangly youngsters in tow. The grey-downed cygnets grow quickly, but take a year to get their white feathers.
    • If you’re very lucky, you might catch the turquoise flash of a kingfisher, darting over the water. They nest in riverbanks and feed mostly on minnows.
    • Trees – Willows, poplars and alders all like to grow near water. The alder has distinctive small cones and catkins and rounded leaves.
    • Flowers – Forget-me-nots and yellow flags, water lilies and bullrushes are some of the easiest water plants to recognise. The bright yellow flag (or iris) flowers from June to August and has sword-shaped leaves. Look out for pink-flowered water mint with its fresh minty smell.
    • Insects – Dragonflies and damselflies live near water and can be brilliantly coloured. The British Dragonfly Society can help you identify them.
    • The Canal and River Trust lists more waterside insects from gyrating whirligig beetles to leaf-shaped water scorpions.

    Wherever you are, stay safe and enjoy the world around you.

    Happy walking!