I'm always sorry to see summer coming to an end (it never seems to last long enough!), but this photo, by Edwin Kats, reminded me just how much we have to look forward to about autumn.
Aren't the colours wonderful?
You'll find this photo, as well as lots more beautiful, autumnal images on RSPB Images.
Early autumn is a really good time to watch out for a very special bird in your garden.
Young sparrowhawks are striking out on their own into the big, wide world and we get a lot of queries about mystery birds of prey seen in gardens. Roughly 90 per cent of the time, they turn out to be sparrowhawks. If you're not sure if you've seen a sparrowhawk, check out our identification page.
Some people aren't fond of seeing these predators in their garden. As the cliche goes, nature is red in tooth (or beak) and claw and sometimes that can be a bit too close to home.
When I'm lucky enough to see a sparrowhawk, I wish it good luck. Only 10 per cent of its hunting attempts will be successful!
Being an effective hunter is never easy. And it's even more difficult if you're a young bird which doesn't have the benefit of experience. Only 34 per cent of sparrowhawks hatched this year will see their first birthday next spring, and lack of hunting know-how plays a large part in that.
Seen well, a sparrowhawk is a magnificent, beautiful bird. But all too often, this is the kind of view you get, as they whizz out of sight!
Tell us if you've had an encounter with a hunter recently - please leave a comment!
Who said moths are boring? Here's a classic autumn moth that you could see virtually anywhere in the UK this month.
It's an angle shades, a species whose caterpillars feed on a variety of common plants including nettles, brambles, hops and oaks. As you can probably guess, the angle shades' beautiful patterning is ideal for hiding among dead leaves.
This gorgeous photo was taken by Steve Knell and comes from our library at RSPB Images. Have a browse!
I don't mean The Wire TV series (although apparently it's brilliant). I mean the real one: telegraph and phone wires. Because this weekend they could be getting very busy as house martins and swallows show off their tightrope balancing skills.
My bird book, Birds of Britain and Europe, says 'apart from using houses to nest in, [the house martin] really has no need for people at all.' However, this spring was so dry that house martins did need your help. We asked RSPB supporters to leave wet mud in their gardens so that house martins could use it to build their nests.
Now house martins are gathering together in flocks, preparing to set off on a long-haul flight to Africa. If you left wet mud in your garden, you can be proud to think that you played your part in this year’s migration.
1 house: 500 house martinsThis weekend is a good time to look for house martin flocks. On Tuesday, one couple woke up to find that approximately 500 house martins had chosen their house as the meeting point. There were birds clinging onto the roof, windowsills and walls.
This is fairly unusual – you don’t usually see more than 30 house martins together. But do keep your eyes on overhead wires, where these little birds are now lining up and chattering away to each other.
The other birds to look out for on overhead wires this weekend are swallows, which are also lining up ready for their migration to Africa. They are larger than house martins, with forked tails and rusty-red chins.
Finally, here’s a nice cartoon based on this phenomenon guaranteed to make you smile. Let us know if you see any swallows or house martins this weekend by leaving comments below.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure on this showery Monday, we bring you a blurred bird courtesy of RSPB Images:
Great, isn't it? What a shot! Peter Cairns has captured this osprey having a good shake, preen and clean. This seems like a fun one for captions - please brighten up our Mondays by leaving your caption ideas below...
Don't forget to check out our tracking pages as we follow the perilous journeys of three ospreys migrating right now from Scotland to Africa.