For many birds, September is the time to move. Species such as swallows and house martins, which have spent the summer feasting on insects, are now returning south to Africa for winter. Seabirds including puffins and gannets leave their clifftop nests and head out to sea, where they will remain until it’s time to breed again next year.
As some birds leave, other start to arrive. This month, look out for geese passing through during their long flight from the Arctic Circle. Canada, greylag and barnacle geese can all be seen arriving at roost sites across the UK in their classic V-shaped flight formations.
From now until late November, one of nature’s most dramatic displays is taking place. Most of us have seen starling murmurations on TV, but these pale in comparison to the real thing. As well as the sight of hundreds of thousands of birds swarming through the sky, the sound of all those wings is just like rain. Just be careful of the white rain that comes with them!
With dusk getting earlier, it’s a good time to look for badgers as they forage on fruit, nuts and insects. Settle down before sunset and wait – if you’re still and quiet you may be rewarded with a badger or two!
Although sometimes elusive, water voles can be seen a little easier now that river vegetation is starting to die back. Now is also when young water voles are venturing out of the burrows for the first time and looking for food.
Fungi and Flora
No matter where you live in the UK, you can admire the turning leaves. City parks and dense forests alike will start to show beautiful displays of reds, oranges and yellows. To get the most dramatic photographs, head out during golden hour (shortly after sunrise or before sunset) and catch a vivid gold light on the leaves.
There is also plenty to see below the changing leaves. Emerging from the forest floor is a diverse range of fungi. Many people forage wild mushrooms – always be careful and know what you’re picking! – but for many people, the sight of these strange and sometimes vividly coloured growths are just as exciting. Fungi come in all shapes and sizes and often grow rapidly so take a look at what’s growing near you. To identify some of Britain’s common fungi species, check out this guide from the Woodland Trust.
The seeds of the horse chestnut tree are also a sure sign that autumn has arrived, although many people know them better by another name: conkers. Whether you play the official game of conkers or just collect them, these smooth, chocolate brown seeds are great fun to find. Be careful of the spiky shells though!
This article was originally published on Bloom in Doom as part of my role as Nature Editor.