As we race towards the equinox, like leggy house spiders through an open door - & after a pretty dismal August, weather-wise, (all things considered) we thought we’d take a walk around our favourite lowland heath yesterday afternoon.
Certainly the beautiful warm sunshine reminded us of what the weather should have been like in August and perhaps this is summer’s last hurrah, this weekend? Autumn proper starts in a day or twos time after all.
I keep thinking I’m hearing the first of the winter thrushes, the redwing, overhead at night. I think I’m about a fortnight early, so I must be hearing things… but they won’t be long now, that’s for sure.
Other birds certainly are on the move. Swallows and martins are very visible now as they all head off south – always a very depressing sight for me - I watched fourteen head joyfully (well… they sounded “joyful”) south over the garden yesterday morning.
I also think I’ve (already) heard the first changing of the robins’ song in the last few days – from the slightly more upbeat trinkle to a much more plaintiff, almost apologetic warble. That "b side" will be played for months, sadly. (Or rather played sadly, for months.)
I’ve already noted that both our valerian types (red and white) have bloomed again, but so is our ceanothus and our mock orange.
The Megachile leaf cutter bees have been quiet for a while, but in yesterday’s morning sun, two busy individuals were determined to finish building their nests in my new bee hotel.
Our huge, subterranean wasps’ nest in the garden is very active indeed when the warmth hits it – I could count at least one wasp per second either flying into the nest or leaving – they’ll make hay while they can – for a few weeks yet I suppose.
Spiders are everywhere it seems and their webs have become more and more visible in the heavy dews of September. No frost yet… but that won’t be too far off either I expect.
Our false widows and Segestria florentina are also making their hay in this brief period of warmth – and the huge male house spiders are legging it inside to find mates now.
On our walk we stopped to watch a peaty-pond full of raft spiders and the beautiful wasp spiders in the surrounding tussocky grass.
There were dragonflies around too – migrant hawkers and common darters in the main – and these odonates should be around for a while yet, if it stays mild.
We still have a southern hawker in the garden. At least I think we do – I don’t think our hens caught and ate it yesterday, whilst I wasn’t looking.
This year seems especially good for fungi. We’ve had masses in the garden already this September after that wet August – and yesterday on our walk we were literally tripping over penny buns, fly agarics and purple russula. Normally Anna and I would head OFF the path to go fungi-hunting, but with the boy around, and with SO MUCH fungi everywhere… we didn’t need to bother. We just needed to watch out for the many, many daddy-long legs flying (if you can call it flying) drunkenly towards our faces if we were taking photos of the toadstools.
This year seems good for fruit and berries also – maybe the wet summer helped swell the plants fruit – certainly there are LOADS of apples, rowan berries and acorns - the jays will be OK this winter - that's for sure.
What did Keats write about autumn?
I did enjoy a misty, autumnal sunrise this morning on a little owl hunt (photo below) and I suppose I can look forward to more sightings of the local little and barn owls as well as look forward to the arrival of the winter ducks – especially the beautiful goldeneye as the nights draw in.
Yes… I suppose I can see why some people have autumn as their favourite time of year, but personally, for me… no.
I’m already counting the days until spring.