Drifting Into Autumn

 Drifting into autumn… Gradually the heat of summer faded into balmier days and whilst still a little reticent, some of the local wildlife began to appear again. 

I previously mentioned mentioned about late butterflies, but from August through to October, apart from a few Comma butterflies out basking and a couple of fresh looking Small Heath, 

it appeared the Butterfly season had finished for the year – not even a late Red Admiral was seen.  Dragonflies on the other hand could still be seen – a few Migrant Hawkers continued to buzz around the meadow, as well as Common Darters, who would settle for a brief while. 

The birds on the other hand were beginning to make themselves known again.  Over several weeks’ walks, I will admit that I heard more than I saw, however, tantalising glimpses were had of a young Chiff Chaff, as well as Whitethroats still foraging, 

The Nuthatch and Treecreeper were both glimpsed foraging in ‘their’ corner of the woods – the Nuthatch being regularly heard and seen on several occasions. 

Up in the tree canopy, Great Tits, Blue Tits and Coal Tits could be seen and heard, as well as Wrens declaring briefly before going low to forage.  Through the woods and around the margins, Blackbirds began to make an appearance as they went looking for the best spots for sloes and berries and charms of Goldfinches could be heard chattering as they flew from one treetop to the next.   Squirrels of all sizes could be seen and heard scampering around the woods as they fed and began to stash food for the coming winter. 

I also discovered that squirrels believe their tails to be a 'cloaking device' which affords invisibility - at least this little character though so, until curiosity got the better of him! 

On one afternoon, I spent a while watching a pair of Wagtails (possibly White) pecking around the ploughed field  

whilst being surveyed by a Song Thrush from deep in a hedge.

I also caught sight of a pair of Red Legged Partridge, they had been displaced from their territory by houses being built, but seem to have re-settled onto the adjacent farmland after I regularly saw them on the building site through most of the construction period!

With the cooler weather I enjoyed several afternoons watching the local Common Lizards, sometimes seeing one or two, at other times being watched cautiously and curiously by one which had ventured out on it’s own. 

One afternoon after watching several for a while, I wandered off to see if there were any Red Admirals and Ivy Bees on a lush growth of Tree Ivy, there weren’t, however as I came back past the colony, there was a welcoming committee of nearly two dozen Lizards basking – the most I had seen in one instance all year! 

At a second colony, the lizards are a little more bashful – however with stillness and patience I also enjoyed some lovely views of them there – this one shows just how well camouflaged they can be. 

The foliage on the trees by now, (early October) had definitely begun to change colour, with reds, bronzes and golds beginning to litter the woodland floor.  Autumn fruits were in evidence too, with an abundance of Acorns, Haws, Sloes, Blackberries, Spindle Berries, Rosehips and Rowan Berries. There is a little slideshow below of the colours and the ‘menu’ around my local patch (best viewed large & 'esc' to resume reading).

 Meanwhile, the birds I hadn’t been seeing, but only hearing in and around the woodland, began to return to the garden café - Blue Tits, Great Tits, House Sparrows, Coal Tits, Long Tails and Robins

And a noisy half dozen sized group of Starlings who regularly empty the feeders along with the Wood Pigeons.  I have also seen the Starlings and Blackbirds making free with the fruit remaining on our grapevine. 

We also have another unexpected resident in the garden café – we have seen a Hedgehog bumbling around, so supplementary food (which was being taken) and a hedgehog hotel have been supplied – hopefully it will find a suitable corner to snooze away the winter.  

Watching from the garden, instead of seeing now long gone Swifts, we have seen and heard Fieldfares flying in little flocks overhead towards the farmland and the Jays are once again on their aerial highway, back and forth above the garden as they collect food and take it back to a hidey-hole in the woods. At dusk, there are flights of noisy corvids as they go to roost and occasional flights of honking geese on ‘circuits’. After dark, there are the calls from various directions of Tawny Owls.

The leaves have all fallen, carpeting the lawn and woodland floor with gold and there have been the first frosts.  I wonder what winter will hold?.







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