Sometimes, it feels like my neighbours get all the best things on their side of the garden boundary. Sparrowhawks sitting on the fence, preening for hours. A young brown hare taking refuge from pouring rain, under their plastic garden furniture. Green woodpeckers drilling into their turf for ants. Song thrushes nesting in their shrubbery. And now, something I've wanted to watch for a long time...Looking out of the upstairs window, there was a pink, white, black and blue blur before me. A jay landed on my neighbours' fencepost and flicked its tail. It had an acorn in its beak, which it placed carefully on top of the post, making sure it wouldn't roll off. Then it jumped down onto the lawn. Looking at its bulging throat, the next move was obvious.The jay selected a slightly longer patch of grass under an apple tree, its chosen spot for the acorns it was holding in its throat. Using its strong beak, it dug a little hole, brought up an acorn and placed it in the hiding place before pushing the grass back over it.
It repeated this three more times, before performing what I consider to be the most impressive feat: going back to the fencepost to pick up the last acorn! I am absolutely certain I would have forgotten that one...The jay's final task was to inspect some more lawn. Hopping across the garden, it stopped and cocked its head to one side. Stop. Look. Listen. Hop. What was it doing? I know it's daft to give birds human thoughts, but the jay must have been thinking something. Could it have been...
At the same time, I had to remember that, although crows are very intelligent creatures, the bird's brain was limited by the size of its head. The jay's grey matter couldn't have been much bigger than the acorn it was carrying in its beak. But when it flew off, my brain was full of questions I couldn't answer.
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So our brief summer has been and gone (yes, sorry guys, that was it) and it's edging ever closer to that dreaded page in your diary that says 'British Summer Time Ends'. Great! But it's not all doom and gloom...
Autumn is without a doubt my favourite time of year. Along with the change of season there are so many things to look forward to like the harvest festival, Halloween, bonfire night and of course the run up to Christmas (I know, I know, but it's getting closer as we speak!)
And everything looks a bit more glamorous and mature this time of year whether it be the colours of this season's fashion, or the array of rusty reds, golden browns or bright yellows of the autumn leaves as they float to the ground. As we pile on more clothes with our snuggly jumpers and comfy boots, the trees will be losing theirs and will soon be stripped bare.
It always feels cosier this time of year. It's nice to settle down, relax and put your feet up as the nights draw in. The natural world, however, will not be relaxing this season. At first glance, it looks a bit dull outside the kitchen window, but if you look closer you will see a whole display of activity from the minibeasts in your garden to the birds in the sky.
Nature is making its preparations for the cold winter ahead. Small mammals such as squirrels and hedgehogs hibernate over the winter so they'll be spending the next few months feasting on all the food they can find. This is to fatten themselves up and keep warm in the chilly weather. Wow, don't you wish it was that simple?
Look up to the sky and you're likely to see that familiar v-shape floating through the clouds. As wildfowl, gulls and waders such as golden plovers and lapwings will join us for the winter, birds like wheatears, redstarts, hobbies, swallows and ospreys will be flying south in search of warmer climates.
If the food supply is good for garden birds in the autumn they may not visit your garden as they prefer natural food but keep your feeders fresh and stocked up so they know it's there when they return. Make sure your garden full of seeds, nuts a berries and you could spot a jay scouting around for food.
If you haven't already, sign-up free to Homes for Wildlife which will give you information and advice on how to make your home and garden into a mini nature reserve and become a wonderful place for wildlife. It will also give you some great tips for autumn.
With the nights drawing in the sunsets are fantastic to see, especially going on your favourite walk with your favourite people. Our nature reserves have some brilliant trails and many of them stay open until dusk so why not take a walk with the family and see if you can spot this seasons natural trends?
So, I would like to wish you all a very merry autumn, wrap up warm, get out onto our nature reserves and see the best places to enjoy nature.
There was a delicate, apricot light as we arrived at Gibraltar Point, where Lincolnshire dips its toes into The Wash. There was a wisp of mist hanging over the dunes but the sun saw through it and lit the saltmarsh from the east.We explored the dunes, watching for signs of life. It was early morning, and cold, but already birds were on the move. Goldcrests fluttered around in the sea buckthorn with its bright orange berries. Siskins, bramblings and redpolls flew overhead, moving down the coast after making landfall further north. Seeing these birds boggles my mind every time - they're tiny things and they've just flown across the North Sea!The noisiest migrants were the long strings of pink-footed geese, ‘oink-oink-oinking' their way south-east to cross the wide estuary and reach Norfolk, their home for winter. These little brown geese probably hatched in Iceland this spring and crossed the North Atlantic in their family groups.
More often, birds' efforts go unseen by humans. When we do get an insight into migration, we don't always see what we want. That's become all too clear this week, as Deshar, the osprey chick hatched on 26 May at Loch Garten, set off on his journey south to Africa. Luck plays a huge part: if Deshar had waited two more days to cross the Channel, he'd have enjoyed clear weather. It could have been so different! He set off on a foggy Friday and took the wrong course with the wind behind him. As an inexperienced navigator, he couldn't have known what was ahead of him.Satellite-tracking Deshar, and his older sister Nethy, has allowed us a glimpse of the challenges that migrating birds face. What should have been a straightforward, short flight across the English Channel at its narrowest point turned into a journey that ended in the way we hoped it wouldn't.
He flew down the Channel and out into the Atlantic non-stop, where he gave up the fight more than 100 hours later, south-west of the Azores and hundreds of miles from where he should have been.
You have to admire the stamina of birds like Deshar. He didn't know where he was going, but he had to go with the flow and keep flying. He held on as long as he could. Meanwhile, Nethy has taken a perfect route across La Manche and into western France. Thousands of other birds are on the move right now, all facing challenges of weather, navigation, food and predators.While we can't help ospreys see through fog or fly in the right direction, we're doing everything we can to make sure they can breed undisturbed. It's a tough world out there.