What to look for
As the temperature starts to rise and the days lengthen, summer gives us the chance to spend an increasing amount of time out of doors connecting with nature and enjoying its wonders.
There are many places in Greater Manchester where wildlife can be observed. Some of these are well known, such as the Mersey Valley, and have their own websites.
Over the coming months we will be featuring some of the less well known sites which are well worth a visit.
Seasons: Summer in Greater Manchester
Frogs and Toads have completed their metamorphosis from the tadpoles which emerged in spring and mini versions of the adults can be seen leaving the ponds. Adult Newts can also be found again on dry land, having left the ponds where they spend just a short period of their lives mating and laying eggs.
The long summer evenings are an ideal time to watch for bats emerging from their roosts and foraging for insect prey. The Common Pipistrelle, as its name suggests, is the species most likely to be encountered, foraging for its insect prey even in built up areas. The females will have established maternity roosts where they rear their pups separately to the males.
The sound of summer in the towns is epitomised by the screeching of parties of Swifts as they fly low over the buildings in which they are nesting. Other summer visitors from Africa including Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Willow Warbler and Whitethroat will be taking advantage of the emerging insects to feed their young both in and out of the nest. They only have a few short months in which to raise the next generation, so good weather in the summer months is critical for them.
In a good summer up to 27 species of this insect can be seen on the wing. Some such as the Green hairstreak and Wall Brown are restricted to upland areas in the north and east. Other species such as the stunning Red Admiral may be encountered almost anywhere in the county. 2009 saw a record influx of Painted Ladies into GM, part of a national influx.
12 species of this group of insects can be found regularly in GM and despite the recent poor summers both their numbers and distribution are increasing as a result of climate change. Visit a local pond or wetland and you may see the magnificent Emperor, moving at speed after its insect prey. Over running water the elegant Banded Demoiselle can be seen, its fluttering butterfly-like flight and dark blue-black band across otherwise transparent wings make it easy to identify.
Roe Deer have expanded their range across GM in the past 10 years and may now be seen almost anywhere. Keep an eye out for females with their young, easily recognised by the white speckling on their flanks. Fox and Badger cubs start to appear above ground, making their first contact with the outside world. If you are really lucky you may come across a family party of Stoats or Weasels, but are more likely to see the adults hunting for food.
By mid summer the dense canopy of deciduous trees provides shade from the sun's rays.
Whilst most of the woodland flowers have bloomed and faded as the canopy closes, the moorland comes into its own in this season. June sees the Cotton Grass add splashes of white to the landscape when viewed from a distance. Close up it appears like blobs of cotton wool. August is the best month to witness the purple spectacle of heather in bloom.