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Wildlife Photography in June

The month when many of the 'summer only' photographers can be seen out taking photographs again. There are so many opportunities that the increased number of photographers does not produce a problem.

While there is so many opportunities I always think of June as Puffins photography month, its the ideal time to photograph puffins with beaks full of sand eels landing and scurrying into feed their chicks underground. Good places to visit to get good photographs of puffins are  Skomer Island, South Wales, the Farne Islands, Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel and in a number of places in Scotland, including Bass Rock. See How To Photograph Puffins and Where to Photograph Puffins as well as the main Puffins page.

Puffins are not alone in feeding their young, the majority of breeding bird species will have broods at some point in June, some will be on their second brood of the year.

June is the month when you may get the opportunity to photograph both the Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers with their young, when they are brought to feeding stations or into gardens. The smallest of our woodpeckers, the Lesser Spotted, is not often seen in gardens. The Great Spotted young are distinctive, not just by their size but as they have red caps. The male has a red mark on the back of the neck while the female has no red.

The young Green Woodpeckers has a more spotty appearance see the Great Spotted Woodpecker gallery and Green Woodpecker Galleryto see a collection of images of the birds.

While the Great Spotted is quite tolerant of people and will allow you to take photographs if they spot you, the Green Woodpecker is more skittish and usually on seeing any person they fly off with a warning screech.


Green Woodpecker

One bird that most know of, many having heard but most never seen is the Cuckoo. These visit from Africa, arriving usually in May, and then watch a chosen breed of bird in late May and through June, for the opportunity to deposit and replace an egg in their nest. The female Cuckoo provides the same coloured egg throughout their lives, and this matches one of a number of species, it is thought that the daughters of cuckoos inherit the same colour and bird type to use. In woods the most common hosts are Robins, Dunnocks and Pied Wagtails, while its Meadow Pipits on moors and mountains and Reed Warblers in wetlands. You my be lucky to see an adult sitting on an open branch singing, and you will often see small birds mobbing and even striking them, in an attempt to drive them off. From this it would appear that the small birds are aware of their breading method, although once they have a cuckoo chick they are programmed to feed a requesting chick in their nests that they will both do all they can to feed the growing monster. Even if they see the chick just after hatching and still featherless, heaving other eggs over the edge of the nests on its back, they will not intervene. While the adults can be difficult to see, the young are easier to spot, being giant, far larger than the birds feeding them, or the nests they are in and are red-brown in colour and very noisy. These chicks have to grow fast as within a few weeks they will be making the flight without any parents to Africa.

Red Kites are interesting to photograph at any time, but at this time of the year you will come across them wheeling and gliding on a thermal as it looks for prey below. See Where to Photograph Red Kites,   this is a list of locations where you can see them within the UK.

All the bugs and small flying critters are about, Butterflies and a host of other insects are searching for pollen and nectar. Red Admiral butterflies are a common visitor to garden flowers and a variety of other butterflies can be found.  At night moths can be seen. As we have 2,500 different moths in the UK, you have plenty of opportunities to photograph something different, and many moths are quite interesting to look at and being attracted to light sources are not so difficult to find, so take a look around your outside lights or make a light trap. In the mornings you may find them resting in dark and damp places after having their nightly feed.

Damselflies and Dragonflies can be seen flying over Rivers, streams, ponds and canals. On the margins of slow-flowing rivers, lakes and even a walk along a canal you may get to see many water plants attracting pollinators, like dragonflies, damselflies etc including the Yellow Waterlilly which opens it's head to reveal its offerings, or you may spot the White Waterlilly although it only opens on sunny days, or even from May-August you may come across the Yellow Iris standing tall at up to 1m and in clusters of 2-3 flowers each up to 10cm across.

All these bugs and other insects open up a chance for macro photography, getting in close and showing detail that was around us all but never sported before. Insects to look out for are ladybirds, wood louse and centipedes.

At the opposite end size wise, we have one of our largest visiting mammals, Orcas or killer whales, they visit the British

coasts between May and October, with most watches or counts are organised for June. They don't seem to have a 'normal route' but are often seen up the west of England and Wales, around all of Scotland and down the east coast as far as the north of England. As they get their killer title by eating seals, any area where seals are to be found might be a place that the orcas may visit. They travel in pods that can contain up to 4 generations, led by a matriarch that can be up to 100 years old. There are thought to be 3 sub species of orcas, but there is still a lot to be found out about these.

Amongst the land mammals that you are likely to see in June are badgers and foxes. With the days getting longer its likely to now be light still when the badgers are out and about foraging for food. They may also visit gardens if there is food to attract them, or a bird table or feeding station to clean up around. A few years back I had two bird feeding stations in my garden when living in the country and most nights the badgers would visit to clean up any remains, and once I started hiding peanuts for them to find they spent some time each night with us, often with families including playful young. They can become accustomed to you and while they will initially turn to statues and then slink off initially ,they soon overcome this and I managed to get them used to flash, and to also go out with them on a few occasions. You will find they do a lot of scratching so bugs also play a big role in their lives.

The fox cubs by June are out and about and starting to become more independent, playful and less aware of danger than they should be, you may be able to get quite close to them. You don't necessarily need to hide, just staying still is often enough, particularly when the parents are not around.

Some of our smaller mammals are bats, and while these can be seen for a lot of the year, approaching mid year they are easier to see as the night is shorter. The best time to see more of them is at dusk on warm evenings, as they will tend to go out slightly early in their search for food and it is also likely to be a lighter evening.

June is an excellent time for walkers to appreciate Englandís wealth of wildflowers while the woodland flowers are starting to produce seeds. Vast numbers of vetches and daisies grow in profusion in pasture and meadows along with the Oxeye Daisy which will also be found on the road side, under scrubs, open canopy forests and waste places. While Wild Orchids appear on chalk downlands and limestone soils. Amongst the hedgerows and brambles you will find the Dog Rose, flowering in June and July, in clusters of up to 4 flowers of fragrant pale pink petals and yellow stamens. Or honeysuckles, twisting themselves around other shrubs and trees, in hedgerows and woodland, distinctive for its trumpet shaped heads leading to colour small fragrant flowers.

Foxgloves grow in woodlands and on moors and sea cliffs all over the UK. They can grow to 1.5m high and have pinkish purple flowers 4-5cm long with darker spots in the throat on tall spikes. They flower June-Sept. On rocky banks and in old stone walls you may come across the Fairy Foxglove which has naturalised from varieties planted into rockery gardens. It only grows 30cm tall and has pinkish purple petals,  with 5 lobes near the top of a spike.

A trip to the coast and the cliff tops you can encounter Sea Pinks and Sea Campions from June-August.

In boggy grassland you may come across the violet flowers of the Butterworth. It's colourful blooms attracts butterflies and long-tongued bee pollinators. They however have a more sinister side as this plant is a carnivore and will eat ants and small flies that get stuck on its sticky foliage.

You can see examples of some of the wildlife highlights that you could photograph at the end of this page.

More Information

See also the Nature and Wildlife calendar - June

Other species can be found listed in the Wildlife and Animals section of the Topic Index and plants within the Nature, Flora and Countryside section, more lists may be found from the Wildlife & Nature index page within the reference section. These lists also give you links to other websites allowing you more information on what we have and haven't yet covered.


So what could you Photograph this Month

Cuckoo    by Mark Kilner

Red Admiral Butterfly   by Chrissy Wainwright

Sea Campion by  Dave Rogers

Peacock Butterfly

Male and Young Great Spotted Woodpecker


By: Keith Park Section: Key:
Page Ref: wildlife_photo_June Topic: Wildlife Last Updated: 05/2011

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