It’s all go in September, no matter where you live, or where you look. Migration is in full swing and millions of birds are heading your way from all corners of the globe. There are fabulous insects to seek in the September sunshine and fungi are popping up everywhere following the late summer rain. There’s not a minute to waste, so to get you in the mood for a September to remember, and 30 days of nature’s finest, here are my 10 “must sees” for this magic month.You'll find dozens of different species of fungi in September. Parasol mushrooms can easily grow over a foot tall (Mark Ward)
1.Watch the waves. Seabirds, from skuas and storm-petrels to shearwaters and Sabine’s gulls are on the move around the coast. The sleek sooty shearwater is an all black, stiff-winged ocean wanderer with a silver lining to its wings. In September, it disperses into the northern hemisphere’s seas having bred in the southern hemisphere on islands off New Zealand and South America. On days with a strong onshore wind, get yourself to the coast and scan out to sea for the sight of these marvellous migrants arching up over the waves before plunging back down into a trough at rapid speed.
Head for the coast and if the wind is in your face, scan the waves for passing seabirds this September (Mark Ward)
2. Make your way to the fungi festival. You might associate autumn’s bonanza of weird and wonderful fungi with October, but September is just as good - especially as there has been plenty of rain to encourage the fruiting bodies to pop out from the soil. Mixed woodland provides a great range of species, so get down to your local wood to see what you can find. From toadstools and clubs, earthstars and earthballs to stinkhorns and puffballs there’s a bewildering array of shapes, sizes and colours to match those nifty names. There are some smelly ones too. Stinkhorns live up to their name and the chicken-run and aniseed funnels provide some interesting alternative aromas. Check out my blog from a couple of years ago for more on September's fab fungi and a look back at some of the species I found last autumn. Let us know how you get on!
September has plenty of smells too - keep your nose to the ground for the stinkhorn (Mark Ward)
3.Watch birds on a wire. Swallows, sand martins and house martins gather in family groups before finally heading off south to Africa for winter. Watch them closely and listen to their conversational calls and you can sense the excitement. Are they discussing when to go and which route to take? We’ll probably never know for sure. What do you think?
House martins, swallows and sand martins gather on telephone wires before taking their final bow and heading south (Nick Upton rspb-images.com)
4.Eye up some ivy. There’s a new bee in town and it’s coming to an ivy near you. The ivy colletes has colonised naturally, spreading gradually northwards through the UK. It is a gorgeous bee with a super stripy abdomen. Ivy flowers are a great late source of nectar for bees and hoverflies, so when the sun shines stand under some ivy– and prepare to be impressed! I'd also highly recommend checking out our the superb blog of Nature's Home's gardening guru, Adrian Thomas, for more September gardening ideas.
Keep an eye on ivy flowers this September - they teem with insect life (Andy Hay rspb-images.com)
5.See a Siberian sprite. Yellow-browed warblers are tiny birds from the forests of Siberia, weighting less than a 50 pence piece. Their lively “Tsoo-eet” calls carry far and wide for such a tiddler. They have become much commoner in the last few years, turning up anywhere and everywhere in autumn. It’s though that they may even be establishing new migration routes and wintering grounds, so keep your eyes and ears peeled this September.
6.Admire autumn moths. The leaves they are-a-changing on the trees and there are plenty of autumn moths now on the wing that mirror those beautiful autumn shades. The canary-shouldered thorn has a brilliant yellow thorax that gives it its name, sallows come in a variety of pinks and yellows and the angle-shades looks like a crinkled autumn leaf! Don't just take my word for it though. Check out this great "Myth-busting moths" feature7. Experience a feast from the east. What you REALLY want in September is a nice long spell of east or north-east winds. If this coincides with high pressure over Scandinavia which brings clear skies to encourage birds to set off on migration, they are “drifted” towards the UK. A big band of rain on the east coast forces them to make landfall and hey presto, it’s a fall of migrants when birds such as goldcrests (below), cryptically-coloured wrynecks, redstarts, flycatchers and beetle-munching red-backed shrikes appear.
The goldcrest weighing about the same as a 10p piece, is on its way from Scandinavia this September (Mark Ward)
8.Enjoy an Indian summer. Warm days with blue skies and sunshine provide great opportunities to see insects. Look for common darters sunning themselves on fenceposts, washing lines and paths. Migrant hawkers patrol the skies in groups – air traffic control at its best. You should still find plenty of butterflies from perfectly pink painted ladies from Morocco to buttercup-coloured clouded yellows dashing past.9.Pick a blackberry – or a basketful. Make sure you leave plenty for the birds and other wildlife though. Have you noticed blackberries appear at different times? And that there are big ones, small ones, juicy ones and some with big “bobbles? And that they all taste different? That’s because there are actually more than 300 different “microspecies” of bramble in the UK! Pick them before the end of September, otherwise the devil will spit on them, so legend has it...
Everyone loves a blackberry, including harvest mice (Ben Andrew rspb-images.com)
10. Take a break! With more than 200 RSPB nature reserves to choose from, why not get away for a break this September to really improve your chances of encountering something special? Our friends at uknaturebreaks.co.uk have a huge range of properties for you to choose, from hidden lodges in the woods to beautiful country cottages and many are close to RSPB reserves too. For every booking made they will donate 10% to the RSPB.
How's your autumn going?We'd love to know how you get on this September and what your favourite sights, sounds, smells and things to do are. You can leave a comment below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org Good luck and have a great month! Don't forget, there are loads more seasonal ideas for where, when and how to watch birds and other wildlife in Nature's Home magazine - free to every RSPB member four times a year.
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