I think we can safely say farewell to the summer and I think most of us will say “good riddance”.
The autumn harbingers are already all around, none more obvious than the steady stream of pink-footed geese piling in from northern climes.
Those who know about such things reckon that they were a good couple of weeks earlier than usual, but I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad omen for the coming winter. I am often asked how to identify the species as they usually appear in V-shaped skeins too high to make out any physical details.
The answer is in their call. Pinkfeet have a high-pitched “wink wink” call while greylags have a loud, cackling “hooonk” call like a domestic goose.
Another avian sign of the changing season is the song of the robin. Nearly all other birds have stopped singing for the winter, but the male redbreast has just started singing a new tune.
It is a more wistful, watery trill than the spring version and very evocative of colder times. Its purpose is to advertise to other robins that a winter territory has been established and any intrusion will not be welcome.
Although the best of my garden buddleia is over, the remaining blooms are attracting butterflies at long last. All the usual suspects are there – red admiral, peacock and small tortoiseshell. What a pity it has taken until mid-September to have them calling.
Swallow and martin numbers on the wires outside my house peaked at over 200 last weekend and now they’ve gone. It was sad to see them go, but at least I won’t have to wash the car so often now.
The barley field behind my house has been safely harvested between the showers and the remaining stubble, together with its fallen seeds, have provided a feast for several species of bird. Most numerous are the jackdaws, starlings and wood pigeons all tidying up the field with great efficiency.
z A few weeks ago I wrote about some late flowering plants, one of which was marsh woundwort. Erroneously, I said that it was of the nettle family and I have since been put right by a proper plant expert, who correctly points out that it is member of the deadnettle clan. I now know what it feels like to have been stung by a botanist!