Beech leaves

Nature's calendar: September

September is a month of change with autumn rapidly taking hold but don’t worry, there’s lots to enjoy in the early autumn sunshine. Berries are all ripening and birds are well and truly on the move as migration is in full swing.

This month you're asking...

Where to find advice on some of the most asked about topics this month:

Baby birds

Cutting hedges

Gulls coming into conflict with us

Let us know what you’ve seen

Birds

Migrant watch

  • Don't worry if your garden goes a little quiet in September. This month sees a glut of ripe fruit and seeds in our gardens and all around the countryside which birds will be making the most of.

  • Having said that, keep an eye on your berry bushes for some unusual visitors. Migration is in full flow meaning that birds can turn up anyway. Blackcaps are very partial to blackberries so keep an eye on an unmown corner of your garden which you leave to go a bit wild.

  • Capitalising on the abundance of dragonflies could be a hobby which migrate to Africa throughout September and like the dragonflies, could turn up wherever there is something to eat.

  • Look out for a rarity! September is the perfect time to come across a real surprise. Occasionally birds migrate the wrong direction or get caught out by winds meaning anything could turn up anywhere. A real treat this month would be an off-course wryneck which is a small member of the woodpecker family and loves looking for ants on paths and patches of bare ground.

Garden watch

  • We all love our garden robin but keep an eye out for multiple robins this month. These birds migrate and disperse widely so look out for disputes between your regular robin and a passer-by.

On your walks...

  • Eye to the skies to look out for our summer visitors heading south. Swallows and house martins will be on the move. At this time of year, you’d be surprised at what birds are migrating. Almost all our birds disperse or migrate in some way. Even the tiny wren is known to travel hundreds of miles during the autumn. Most birds you encounter during September will be on some sort of journey so keep that in mind as you walk around the countryside.

Insects

In your garden:

  • Some butterflies might unexpectedly appear indoors. These are likely to be small tortoiseshells or peacocks, looking for somewhere safe to hibernate for the winter. If the weather is warm and dry, best to pop them safely back outside or if the weather isn’t too good, in an outhouse or shed with access to the outside.

  • Autumnal moths. Moths often appear at lit windows throughout the year but have a closer look at this time of year and you’ll notice some very autumnal colours. Oranges, yellows and of course brown but they’re by no means boring. Canary-shouldered thorn or the pink-barred sallow are just some to look out for.

Out and about:

  • September sun will be tempting many insects to keep active and particularly migrant hawker dragonflies that can be abundant in September. These are not always found near water and will hunt almost anywhere for smaller insects to eat.

  • Crickets are at their loudest on a warm early September evening, particularly in the south. The loudest is the great green bush cricket which is also our largest! Is it a cricket or a grasshopper? Look at the antennae. Short on a grasshopper and very long on a cricket. Easy!
Migrant hawker dragonfly in flight

Mammals

  • Hedgehogs will be busy feeding up as they’re very aware that it’ll soon be time to hibernate.

  • Fox wars! Cubs are now all grown up and leaving their dens to find new territories which could mean lots of disagreements in your neighbourhood.

Reptiles and Amphibians

  • This month could be your last chance to enjoy your garden pond wildlife as the water temperature starts to drop. Frogs and newts may be thinking of heading out of the pond for the winter, but the insect life can still be abundant on a sunny day with pond skaters and whirligig beetles making the most of the autumn sunshine.
  • Cooler nights mean you have a better chance of seeing reptiles basking in the morning and late day sun. Look out for sunny spots near cover for grass snakes or adders basking or check sunlit rocks or logs for common lizards.

Flowers

  • Hedgerows are changing colour and usually red means danger but not for birds at this time of year. Hawthorn and rowan berries are now perfectly ripe and tasty, and birds love them.
Painted lady Vanessa Carduip, feeding on buddleia

Top reserves this month

Check for these reserves on our reserve information page where you can find all the information you need on opening times and how to stay safe when visiting.

  1. Belfast Lough: A wonderful wetland on the outskirts of Belfast where you can welcome back a range of winter visitors.
  2. Exe Estuary: Not far from Exeter city centre, this vast estuary provides a winter home for large flocks of avocet and black-tailed godwit.
  3. Loch Leven: This wonderful wetlands situated between Edinburgh and Dundee is the perfect place to see thousands of arriving pink-footed geese arriving from Iceland.
  4. Conwy: A wetland on the east bank of the Conwy estuary and a great place to see arriving migrant birds.
  5. Leighton Moss: This large wetland reserve offers the chance to see migrant waders such as black-tailed godwit, knot and redshank.
  6. Snettisham: A prime location to witness some spectacular numbers of waders that use the Wash as their winter-feeding site.

Top reserves for migration watching

To find out more, pick a marker from the map or zoom in.
    • Mull of Galloway

      Mull of Galloway

      This spectacular reserve is well known for its seabirds in spring but in autumn its location on the west coast of Dumfries and Galloway creates a migrant bird funnel. In the right conditions you can see skylarks, meadow pipits and finches.

      Before you travel
    • Lodmoor

      Lodmoor

      A small Dorset reserve tucked away on the south coast. Look out for migrating waders, yellow wagtails feeding up out on the marsh and large gatherings of swallows feeding up before heading out to sea.

      Before you travel
    • Minsmere

      Minsmere

      One of our flagship reserves located at the migration hotspot of the Suffolk coast. Look out for migrating waders, yellow wagtails out on the marshes and hobbies over the reedbeds.

      Before you travel
    • Bempton Cliffs

      Bempton Cliffs

      Well known for its seabirds and in particular the gannets many will still be around in September and this East Yorkshire reserve also can be the perfect place to witness some spectacular migration.

      Before you travel
    • Newport wetlands

      Newport wetlands

      A coastal reserve in south Wales alongside the Severn estuary. A mix of reedbeds, scrub and muddy scrapes ideal for waders when the tide is high out in the estuary. Look out for wheatears along the seawall and redstarts in the hedgerows.

      Before you travel