Grasslands offer amazing opportunities for wildlife watching. Why not take
a few tips from the Hands on Nature team as we get close to wildlife with activities
that you can participate in at home.
Grasslands offer amazing opportunities for
wildlife watching. Why not take a few tips from the Hands on Nature team as we
get close to wildlife with three activities that you can participate in at home.
remoteness of many grassland areas make them great places for bird watching.
Uist is a bird watcher's dream due to its remoteness.
a Mecca for birds especially waders such as Redshanks and Lapwings.
look carefully, you can see just how clever these birds are at exploiting the
* The Lapwing does a bit of a rain dance, not that they need
the rain, but because it makes the worms think it is raining and they come even
closer to the surface making them easier to be eaten.
* The Corncrake is
best seen in late Spring before the grass grows too high. This light brown bird
tends to creep lowly through the grassland.
* Listen for the Corncrake's
distinctive rasping noise. Locals have nicknamed it the 'fast moving rasper'.
A good place for bird watching is the RSPB reserve at Balranald on north Uist.
Look out for migrant birds such as Dunlins with their distinctive black bellies.
Other birds to look out for are Buntings, Lapwings, Black-Throated Divers, Short-Eared
Owls and Redshanks.
* Don't forget to take your binoculars.
clothing that camouflage into the landscape - avoid bright reds and other strident
and butterfly spotting
The South Downs is one of the best places in Britain
to go moth and butterfly spotting.
* Spot the difference between a moth
and a butterfly - moths have a hook that links their hindwing to their forewing
which butterflies don't have.
* Look out for a wide variety of butterflies
on flowers in the Downs - take a butterfly guide book and note them down on a
* For a day time moth trip - take a moth net to swish along
the ground and a plastic container, but put the moths back when you've studied
* Daytime moths include the yellow and black Hornet Clearwing which
has transparent wings and a body mimicking a wasp for protection.
* A night
time moth trip can be an exhilarating experience. You don't need expensive equipment.
Simply take a white sheet and a fluorescent strip light or strong light
bulb and watch the nature show unfold before you.
You can also buy a more
professional kit consisting of a large light box with egg boxes in which the moths
will take a rest.
* Take a moth identification book with you and count
how many different types of moth you can see.
*Be careful when touching
the moths - let them land on you. Don't touch the butterflies.
Conservation holds a National Moth Night every year, and local branches hold events
throughout the Summer.
spectacle at Uist
Uist's Machair explodes into a riot of colour every year
when its flowers are in full bloom.
The diversity and intensity of plants
on Uist's grasslands is immense making it one of the best places in Britain to
go flower spotting.
* July and August are the best
times to see the explosion of flowers on Uist.
* Take a plant book and see
how many different wildflowers you can spot from Red Clover to Scottish Bluebells.
Bring a notebook to jot down the flowers you've seen and draw pictures of them.
Become a busy bee - Scottish Natural Heritage produces a publication about the
many varieties of Bumble Bee in the grasslands. Look out for the Moss Carder Bee.
Don't pick the flowers - look, don't touch.
Photographs courtesy of RSPB
and Murray Downland Trust.