Incredible Cornish wildlife to spot in August

Windmill Farm nature reserve, The Lizard, Cornwall

The Windmill Farm reserve on The Lizard is a great place for wildlife watching - Credit: David Chapman

Wildlife photographer David Chapman on what flora and fauna to see in August, and where to find one of the rarest plants on earth. 

WHAT TO SEE

Chinese Character MothCilix glaucata on Leaf in Cornwall; UK

The Chinese character moth doesn’t really look like a moth until you get really close! - Credit: David Chapman

Chinese character moth
Did you know there are about 2,500 moth species in the UK, compared to only about 57 butterflies? Some moths are small and indistinct but many are large and colourful. My favourites are the ones that have developed a clever camouflage or mimicry such as the ‘Chinese character’ moth which looks just like a bird dropping! 

Chinese Character Moth next to Bird Poo, by photographer David Chapman

Here we see a Chinese character moth and a bird dropping, now that’s a good piece of mimicry! - Credit: David Chapman

Cornish Heath is endemic to the Lizard in Cornwall

Cornish heath is endemic to The Lizard - Credit: David Chapman

Cornish heath
Cornish heath is a heather found only on The Lizard and more specifically only on serpentine rock, it grows nowhere else in the world. Good places to look include Windmill Farm, Kynance Cove and Goonhilly Downs (near the Earth Station). Tall and robust, this is a beautiful flower found in August and September. 

Cornish Heath; Erica vagans; Cornwall; UK; close up

A close-up of the Cornish heath flower - Credit: David Chapman

Osprey; Pandion haliaetus; Fishing; Aviemore; Scotland

If you are observant and lucky you might see an osprey this month - Credit: David Chapman

Osprey
Ospreys don’t breed in Cornwall but each autumn they pass through the county on their way to Africa. In recent years their British breeding population has increased through reintroduction and greater protection so we now have a much higher chance of seeing one, in August and September. Any estuary, creek or lake can provide a temporary home.  

Osprey; Pandion haliaetus; Fishing; Aviemore; Scotland

You may see an osprey passing through the county this month or in September - Credit: David Chapman

WHERE TO GO

Pond at Windmill Farm nature reserve, The Lizard, Cornwall

This pond at Windmill Farm was specifically designed for dragonflies and they love it - Credit: David Chapman

Windmill Farm, The Lizard 

Windmill Farm is a nature reserve on The Lizard, so-named because at its centre there is an old windmill which has been converted into an observation tower. The reserve is jointly owned by Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society; it is open to everyone free of charge and is a great place for wildlife. 

Common LizardLacerta viviparaSingleCornwall; UK

Common lizards can be seen basking on posts and boardwalk at Windmill Farm - Credit: David Chapman

In summer the many ponds are teeming with dragonflies and damselflies. 

Emerald DamselflyLestes sponsaSingle Male on StemCornwall; UK

This is a male emerald damselfly photographed at Windmill Farm in August - Credit: David Chapman

The rush pasture provides sanctuary for grasshoppers, crickets and butterflies whilst on the open heathland there are plenty of wildflowers including Cornish heath, bell heather, cross-leaved heath, great burnet and sneezewort. 

Great burnet growing at Windmill Farm reserve on The Lizard, Cornwall

Flowers of great burnet are common in the wet ground at Windmill Farm - Credit: David Chapman

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The hedgerows provide a safe place for nesting birds and an evening visit might be rewarded by the sight of a barn owl. Watch out for lizards on the board walk and don’t be surprised to spot an adder, particularly beside the old runway near Predannack airfield. 

For directions see www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves/windmill-farm 

Old windmill at Windmill Farm nature reserve on The Lizard, Cornwall

This windmill has been converted into an observation tower - Credit: David Chapman

To see more of David’s photography see: www.davidchapman.org.uk and to learn more about wildlife in Cornwall look for David’s book Where to Watch Wildlife in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in local bookshops or direct from David.