As the sun lingers longer on the horizon, dusk in high summer is an opportunity to take a twilight walk and revel in the nocturnal nature on all our doorsteps.
The liminal magic of twilight, whether in the ‘tulgey wood’ of Lear’s poetry, Hardy’s ‘gloam’ or TS Eliot’s ‘violet hour’, affords it an ethereal place in our collective subconscious, but for a number of species, it is a time of industry, wakefulness and movement. A huge variety of creatures are starting their day as the human one winds down. For us, the pleasure of free-range family time adds to the thrill of those in-between hours, ensuring our eyes and ears are alert and attuned to our surroundings in a new way.
Try these twilight activities:
For guaranteed sightings of birds of prey, hares, or even seals and puffins, take an expert-led tour.
The National Trust and the RSPB offer a number of guided evening walks, whether bird, bat, or moth based, and many reserves have rarer residents too. Check out www.rspb.org.uk/events and www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
Spend an evening badger watching in a dedicated hide.
Badger cubs should be fully weaned by early July, but can be seen gathering food and bedding around hides. By summer’s end, they begin feeding themselves up for winter when they spend much of their time in a state of torpor, sleeping for days at a time. Find a local group at www.badger.org.uk.
Pack a twilight picnic, and a torch or camping lantern (to attract the moths) and watch as they flit around as the sunlight fades.
Or put up a white sheet in your garden, hang a torch or glowstick in front of it, and enjoy your own nature show.
Head to a pond or lake.
As the sun goes down, life on the water hots up. Newts and a variety of aquatic invertebrates are attracted to light, so as it gets dark, move a beam of light across the water to see what you find. On warm evenings you might spy frogs or toads swimming, while insects such as great diving beetles, water boatmen and pond-skaters can still be seen.
For more twilight tips, turn to page 76 of July’s The Simple Things.