For many birds the breeding season will be drawing to a close. By mid-month. most adult Cuckoos will have left and the young terns – Sandwich, Common and Little – will be fledging if the season has been successful, along with Black-headed Gull, Oystercatchers, Avocet, Ringed Plover and Redshank.
The passage of wading birds returning from the north gathers momentum, with Dunlin, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common and Green Sandpipers, and probably a few Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint. Wildfowl such as Teal and Shoveler will also be increasing in number, and Sand Martins will begin to return early in the month. This is a good month for very rare bird records: Least, Sooty, Bridled and Caspian Terns, Wilson’s Phalarope and Baird’s Sandpiper have all been recorded here in July.
The more conspicuous shingle flowers will include Wild Carrot, Pyramidal Orchid, Viper’s Bugloss, Red Valerian, Yellow Horned-poppy, Red Hempnettle and Sea Pea. Our rarest plant, Least Lettuce, begins to flower late in the month, but it is very hard to find on the Beach Reserve as its flowers are small and only open in the mornings!
On warm, calm days the ditches and pools are alive with hundreds of Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies, and dragonflies such as Emperor and Common Darter may be seen. Many grasshoppers will reach maturity, the males recognised by their distinctive songs. Dark Bush-crickets can also be found in scrubby areas, while the Beach Reserve supports the scarce Grey Bush-cricket. This is perhaps the best month for numbers and variety of moths including some of our rarer species such as Pale Grass Eggar and Pygmy Footman. Some of the commoner butterflies to look for include Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell and Small and Essex Skippers.