After such a hot summer it was a surprise to have cool and damp weather but September began with just that. On the first day of the new month a snipe visited the garden and spent some time feeding in damp grass around the big pond, probing its long beak again and again and clearly finding plenty of food. The mallard that bred here this summer were down to just one adult and three juveniles – some had moved to the pond in the field next to the house and in some ways it was a relief as they have been rather dominating the garden!
The change in the weather brought many migrating swallows and house martins to the area. A few rested on wires overhead but the vast majority simply swirled around above the garden and ponds, clearly finding plenty to feed on as they started their long migration south. This happens here every late summer as we appear to be on a regular migration route for these birds. The garden clearly provides plenty of small invertebrates for these species, largely due I suspect to the fact that everything has been managed organically here for many years. It is always an amazing sight and I am always sorry to see them go!
Autumn was clearly very much in the air as our local grey squirrels began to collect hazel nuts and bury them around the garden. This regular activity provides us with plenty of small hazel saplings every spring to plant in any gaps in our hedges as the majority of these buried treasures are never found again! The month continued with more damp and overcast days and the orchard started to attract many small birds, especially tits, which were clearly finding plenty in the way of food in this area of the garden. The apple crop looks as though it is going to be especially good this year so I am looking forward to large numbers of fieldfares and redwings here in the winter!
As usual I spent the last two weeks of September in West Cornwall. The gardens in this part of the country are always a joy and the good weather we experienced there meant that there were plenty of late summer butterflies around including wall brown and small copper at Trewidden, feeding on late summer flowers especially Helenium and Verbena. Clouded yellow was also seen a couple of times and red admirals and painted ladies were abundant on sunny days.
Returning to South Shropshire at the end of the month, the garden seemed empty and still. Filling the bird feeders immediately had a huge effect and we were soon back to our usual numbers of regular garden birds including a heron in the big pond daily and a little flock of long-tailed tits on the feeders.