Autumn is definitely here; the colours are incredible this year and I'm hoping that any strong winds hold off until the weekend so I have a chance of capturing the woods in their full majesty. But it's not just the colours, the wildlife is changing too.
I spotted (or rather heard, then spotted) my first redwings on 17th September; six birds moved from tree-top to tree-top, North along the Swale at Warbler corner. I was particularly pleased as mine was the first inland record I could find this year. Since then, numbers have swelled considerably and these thrushes have been joined by hundreds of their feeding companions, fieldfare.
The little egrets are back after a summer long absence and I've counted them along every stretch of the river this Autumn. I wonder where they go...
Greenshank passed through in record numbers. A brief, lone sighting under the riverine wood was trumped over the following weekends with small groups in flight and a very vocal group of birds that could be heard throughout the North of my patch.
The osprey too returned through the patch and hung around for nearly a month; my last sighting being on the 20th September... the same day I saw my first ever Swale otter!! Not the greatest of views, it tormented me by coming up for air for a fraction of a second before disappearing under the water where I'd lose it. I stood frozen for nearly an hour hoping for a photo-opportunity but it never came.
Starlings have begun gathering in large numbers and at roughly the same time each evening, large flocks head west over the house to roost; to whereabouts I don't now. Here a crow sits awkwardly among an early morning gathering.
Joining the starlings on the ploughed fields have been huge numbers of linnet (I counted upwards of 100 on the fields in the Long River Loop), never settling for long, the birds whirl and rush like a shoal of bait-fish.
An even more welcome sight have been curlew. Last winter felt quiet for waders (other than snipe) but already this Autumn I have counted groups of 50+ curlew and similar sized troupes of lapwing. Against a blue sky they're quite a spectacle when they circle to choose a safe place to alight.
At the other end of the size spectrum, constantly calling, migrating goldcrest have drawn other birds in and the river trees especially seem a magnet to these feeding groups. Chiffchaff and willow warbler are the last hangers-on from the summer breeders and find comfort in the mixed flocks of long-tailed tit, blue-tit, great tit and the aforementioned goldcrest. Occasionally a treecreeper can be spotted in the mix and I'm constantly on the look-out for something more unusual. Having seen one in March, firecrest feel like a real possibility and large numbers of yellow-browed and other leaf warblers have been turning up on the East coast in some number.
Fingers crossed for this weekend! Even if nothing unusual does show up, I'm happy just to be out and about in the company of the ordinary, especially when that's as grand as this buzzard.