As usual the weather dominates my thoughts as I think about September, and it was a month of two halves in that respect. The first half was spent in wet and windy Shropshire and the second half – my usual holiday time – was enjoyed in the very west of Cornwall. It is always difficult to leave a large garden for any length of time, especially when that garden is managed specifically for wildlife. Bird feeders need to be kept topped up of course but more importantly what am I going to miss? Will there be a new bird or dragonfly species to add to the garden list? I have to put aside this obsessional attitude and think ahead to the different plants and animals I am going to see in a different and very beautiful location. It is always good to see other gardens too, even visit large gardens that are not managed specifically for wildlife, as sometimes it is there that I will encounter wildlife that I don’t see in my own garden.
Back in Shropshire the first two weeks of the month were rather cold for most of the time with only the odd sunny day. On those sunny days though the vegetable garden especially was full of late summer butterflies, especially the red admirals that have dominated the garden this summer, but also there were commas, small tortoiseshells and speckled woods continuing to feed there. As well as nectaring on Verbena bonariensis, these butterflies, along with several bumblebee species, were taking nectar from the single flowered dahlias I grow between the veggies, and several dragonfly species also took advantages of this warm and sheltered area, often sunning themselves on a wooden seat in a sheltered corner.
Around the bird feeders all our regular species were joined by long-tailed tits and goldfinches as they returned to the garden and the local willow tit continued to visit daily, whereas marsh tits were not seen at all. Buzzards are very common birds around us here and one was seen several times sitting in one of our apples trees. A pipistrelle bat, which roosts in our roof, continued to be seen every evening and a fox was a regular nocturnal visitor to the meadows and long grass areas.
On dry nights the moth trap revealed good catches of the common species we usually see here at this time of year including one of my favourites, the copper underling, but no new species were added to the garden list.
In Cornwall things were a little different. We were fortunate to have excellent weather most days and took advantage of it! On the coast path ivy flowers swarmed with bees of many species, including the attractive, striped, ivy bee which I had not seen before. Red admirals were common. Wheatears lined the rocky shores and stonechats were also abundant on the coast along with jackdaws and turnstones. Visits to a couple of local gardens were notable for good views of goldcrests, rarely seen in my garden here.
But the highlight was to see six Cornish choughs at Porthgwarra. This is a favourite bird that I regularly see on Anglesey at South Stack, but seeing them in Cornwall, where they are now breeding successfully, was a huge pleasure. I returned to Shropshire to the local jays burying acorns in the lawns and a few remaining dragonflies, bumblebees, red admirals and commas taking advantage of the sheltered sunny spots in the vegetable garden.
Wheatear on the Cornish coast