September is time of change and Autumn gets underway. Though the weather can still be delightful morning mists cloak the meadows and gossamer webs are laden with ephemeral pearls. During the course of September we can get all types of weather from a heat wave…like last year to autumn gales.
Autumn will bring great changes. Many plants die back to their storage roots below ground, deciduous trees and shrubs loose their leaves to protect them from the winter when the ground may be frozen and water scarce. In the bird world things are on the move with autumn migration reaching a peak with some leaving whilst new ones arrive. The last of the wild flowers and insects still clinging on may be seen especially on warm days. Animals are fatting up for their winter hibernation. This is the month when these changes start, but it is not until November when Autumn comes to a conclusion.
So what to look or listen for this Month.
- Summer breeding birds move to their wintering grounds in Africa where they can be sure of food.
- Look around the countryside, estuaries and even gardens for the return of over wintering birds
- Hedgerows for Blackberries, elderberries, rosehips, rowanberries sloes and hops
- Late butterflies and moths
- Dragonflies and damselflies near water
- Fungi appearing in woodlands and grasslands including Puffballs,
- Fly Agarics, Shaggy ink cap and stinkhorn. Remember lots of fungi are poisonous!
- Bats still on the wing
- Trees like Horse Chestnut, Hazel, and Beech with their nuts and the Oak with Acorns have an exclusive set of allies. Jays and grey squirrels pick these up and stash them in the ground to get them through the harsh winter to come. Ash and Sycamore have their” Keys “
- Many leaves are starting to change colour especially after our dry summer.
- Craneflies….”Daddy Long legs” blundering about lampshades and external lights can be seen. These are the adult form of the leather jackets which cause damage in grassland although luckily Rooks love a snack of leather jackets and can be seen feeding on fields.
- Ivy- this is one of the few late flowering plants and the nectar forms an important food source for bees and wasps.
- Himalayan balsam, which has become a scourge of the river bank, is at its peak. I have seen some on the stretch of the River Tiffey near Wymondham Abbey.