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12 May 2023

Summer wonders

Heading to the wild places we care for this summer? Keep your eyes peeled for some of these natural delights shared by Glenridding Common Manager, Pete Barron.

There are so many natural wonders to spot in the wild places we care for, from migrating birds and butterflies to dazzling flora.

This summer, make a note of some of the things you could see while you are out and about, and let us know via social media what you spot!

Ring ouzel

The mountain blackbird can be found on the Lakeland fells, Pennines and Scottish Highlands from roughly above 500m.

It's a seasonal migrant which winters in northern Africa and the Iberian peninsula. It's often associated with heather on craggy ground and feeds largely on worms and cranefly larvae. This upland specialist is now a red-listed bird of conservation concern due to population decline over the past 10+ years. 

On sites like Helvellyn, we have been restoring montane woodland species and juniper to give ring ouzels a safe habitat to shelter and feed while they visit.

Mountain ringlet

Our only true montane butterfly has a stronghold in Lakeland and central Scotland, including on three Trust properties. It can be seen flying in appropriate upland areas with mat grass, on which the caterpillars feed, and nectaring on tormentil and heath bedstraw, mostly seen above 500m in warm sunshine and minimal breeze.

Mountain ringlet butterfly

^ Mountain ringlet. Credit: Pete Barron

Emperor moth

Butterflies get all the fuss, but this stunning moth can be seen in heath areas across the UK during May and is distinctive in having large peacock like eyespots on all four wings. The males also sport incredible furry antennae, allowing them to pick up the pheremones given off by females.

Fantastic flora

Early in the spring, the star of the show on some of our more Alpine-like sites is the purple saxifrage. This radiant purple flower tends to grow where the last of the winter snow melts, turning crags and scree a dazzling colour. They tend to flower early and continue throughout summer.

On the hills from June wild thyme, with purple pink flowers, and white-petalled heath bedstraw are plants which can survive browsing and can give off a heady scent in warm weather and can be quite common especially in areas with an element of lime in the soil.

We are working to restore more montane woodland and flora on our sites and elsewhere. Although you are unlikely to see the rare species involved, be assured that specialist montane willows are expanding across the crags of Glenridding Common following many years of work, along with Arctic alpines such as Alpine cinquefoil and Alpine mouse-ear.

Purple Saxifrage at Glenridding^ Purple saxifrage. Credit: Pete Barron.


During the winter months white-tailed eagles and golden eagles are hunkering down and less active. However, if you are in the Scottish Highlands - particularly at our sites on Skye, Quinag and Knoydart - you can see these marvellous birds take to the skies again.

Later in the year, you might also spot juvenilles taking their first flights and practising hunting.

Isaac planting on crags

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