The hot July sun beats down as I sit in a meadow peering above the tall mixed grasses into a shimmering heat haze beyond.

High above under a pale blue sky a small flock of swifts wheel and turn, the sun glinting golden on their underwings. Meadow brown butterflies flutter lazily through the sward in complete contrast to skipper butterflies whizzing by in groups, earning them my name of the 'red arrows' of the butterfly world.

Large stands of bright yellow ragwort attract great numbers of gatekeeper butterflies, abundant this summer, and most flower heads are covered in gatekeepers, meadow browns and three species of skipper ( small skipper pictured ) while a few fully grown black and yellow hooped day-flying cinnabar moth caterpillars feed on ragwort leaves. They will soon descend into the soil to pupate and emerge as moths next May.

There is a gentle buzz of grasshoppers surrounding me while handsome male rosel's bush crickets utter a continuous rattling hiss.

In a nearby tree belt jackdaws perch with open beaks in order to cool off and they look very scruffy now as they enter their summer moult. 

Ants are flying in mating swarms today providing a feeding bonanza for the swifts and gulls as high temperatures and barometric pressure over a wide area trigger their emergence. The swarms are so vast, dense and widespread that they are even showing up on radar screens.

Once mated the males die while the females descend to earth, break off their wings and search for a hole in which to begin another nest.