September was a rather beautiful, mild month with quite a lot of warm sunny weather here in South Shropshire. There were several chiffchaffs here at the beginning of the first week, feeding around the garden in the warm sunny weather, and I assumed that some were juveniles and that chiffchaffs had bred in the garden as they have in previous years. The moorhens, which had been resident here for many months appeared to have gone, but the single female mallard that has been with us for some time was still in the garden and feeding on fallen fruit under our apple trees. Goldfinches were coming together in a small, mixed adult and juvenile flock while a few butterflies, including a lovely wall brown and a very dark speckled wood, were seen in the garden daily. Huge numbers of swallows and martins were flying and feeding over the garden every day, taking advantage of all the small invertebrates that breed in the meadows, borders and hedges here. Our own swallows were doing well with the second brood now out of the nest and feeding around the garden, but still spending some time in the shelter of the nest cup in the porch at the front of the house. They returned to the porch to roost every night. Harvesting began in the field next door to the garden on the 7th and the small insects that this activity inevitably produces were snapped up by the swallows and house martins.
The second week of the month was warm but very breezy. Bank voles were still feeding daily at the back of the house but on the 8th we noticed that no swallows were roosting in the porch, so they have left us for another year after two successful broods. The weather continued to be warm but slowly became more overcast and rather wet. A pair of greenfinches was around the feeders on a daily basis and a single yellowhammer was seen feeding on the driveway on the 9th taking advantage of the seeds of a teasel plant that had seeded into the driveway. Also this day a sedge warbler was seen around the big pond – the second time we have had this species around the garden. At the end of the week a kingfisher was also see around the big pond! This has only happened once before and this time it did not stay for long, but I did have a great view of it perched on a bullrush and then flying into the alder tree on the pond edge.
September is our annual holiday month – a time when the garden can be left to its own devises – and the last two weeks of September were spent on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales, close to Oxwich Beach. We were very fortunate with the weather which was excellent for the whole of the first week with bright warm sunshine every day. Morning walks on the beach revealed plenty of sea urchins, while black headed gulls searched for food and a group of beautiful ringed plovers was seen every day. Other daily walks took us further afield to especially to Rhossili and the stunningly beautiful area of Worms Head – a place I first visited more than forty years ago! We had very good views of the choughs there and also saw daily a pair of kestrels, stonechats and wheatears. Plants in the Oxwich dunes included the lovely sea holly but the choughs were the highlight of the holiday.
At the end of the second week of September we returned to South Shropshire and the garden was very quiet, as expected, with a very autumnal feel here. Fox scats revealed that there had been a regular visitor around the garden and a couple of rabbits were still around the meadow areas. However the resident bank voles were completely absent! Numbers of the usual bird species for the time of year including lots of your goldfinches, slowly built up but the siskins that have been with us since last winter had disappeared! Two very persistent nuthatches were caching food and a single marsh tit was visiting the feeders daily. Grey squirrels were collecting hazelnuts, several jays were burying acorns and all the signs of autumn were here,