Tens of guillemots out on the water

Nature's Calendar: September

September is a time of change for wildlife in the UK – as summer comes to an end, nature is on the move. Find out what wildlife you could spot this month.

Migrant Hawker

September is a great time to see migrant hawkers, as our population is often boosted by continental dragonflies in the late-summer. Their stronghold is in the south of England, but the species range has increased in recent times, and migrant hawkers can now be seen in northern English borders and in Northern Ireland. They can be found anywhere from grassland and woodlands to mature gardens.


As September arrives, sandpipers will have already begun to depart, with adults leaving the breeding grounds in July and August, and juveniles following shortly after. Keep an eye out for them at freshwater sites, coastal habitats and estuaries as they make their way to warmer wintering grounds.

Guillemot Uria aalge, adult, with fish in bill, group, Isle of May National Nature reserve

Ocean auks

Auks are not as agile on land as they are on water – a little ‘Auk-ward’ you might say. So, unlike other species of birds opting for warmer climes in the winter – these quirky seabirds will make their way out to the harsh winter sea once the breeding season comes to an end. Puffins, guillemots and razorbills are well-adapted to this ocean environment and can take the rougher weather in their stride.

A group of knot huddled together against the cold


September isn’t just a time for departure – migrating knots begin to arrive on UK coastlines after leaving their summer breeding grounds in the Arctic. These short-legged, stocky birds favour estuaries and mudflats, where they will forage for shellfish and worms, before roosting at high tide.

Top 5 reserves to visit this month...

Want to see waders on the wing? Why not pay a visit to one of our migration pitstop reserves this September.

Minsmere RSPB Reserve, general view of Boomacre Mere
A basking shark below the water, with its mouth wide open to feed

Marine migration

Basking sharks, the world’s second biggest fish, spend summer in the UK. They will begin moving to warmer seas as autumn approaches – recent satellite tagging suggests that some may winter as far away as Portugal and North Africa, whilst others remained in UK waters. Sightings of bluefin tuna also increase in late summer, autumn and winter as they arrive at our coastlines to feed.

Robin perched on a thorny branch, singing among the red berries

Berrying bushes

As the summer comes to an end, many birds will adjust their diets ahead of the colder months, with a lot of our species shifting to a berry-based diet as the first of these late summer fruits emerge on bushes. Blackberry, elder and hawthorn provide an essential food source not only for our year-round residents, but also many of the species migrating south for the winter. Look out for warblers, such as chiffchaffs, willow warblers and whitethroats.