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Autumn Diary 2019

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Swift Nesting Box

As I write in mid - September, we are enjoying an open autumn with plenty of sunshine. Despite the records for the hottest day recorded in Britain being broken, we did not endure many consecutive days of extreme heat but generally experienced a kind summer with sufficient rainfall. Most people noticed an abundance of insects which probably contributed to Swifts staying with us for longer than usual. In poor summers most Swifts leave by the end of July but I noted the last Swift over my Lincolnshire garden on the 27th of August.

We had a Swift nesting box erected under the eaves of our house complete with a speaker making Swift calls. Unfortunately, it was erected rather late in the spring, so remained unoccupied, but we hope to attract these declining icons of summer next year.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Butterflies were especially plentiful with an invasion of migrant Painted Ladies from early summer which then bred here, resulting in a second generation some of which are still in evidence now in September. I have never seen so many Red Admirals in my garden before and this morning I counted 11 on the Buddleia. In smaller numbers, but equally beautiful is the Comma which can often be seen well into October.

Painted Lady
The star of the show - and we never seem to see them until early autumn; are the Hummingbird Hawkmoths.

Red Admiral


One of my garden ponds is teeming with some very large dragonfly nymphs which I think are Southern Hawker larvae. The adults are constantly patrolling the ponds along with the much smaller Common Darters and the odd Migrant Hawker.

Now in October the weather has deteriorated with high winds and lots of rain. It is not just the weather and the shortening day length that is reminding us that autumn has arrived. Whooper Swans were seen at Frampton Marsh before the end of September. It seemed bizarre to see these winter visitors from their arctic breeding grounds when Swallows and Martins were flying over their heads.

Pectoral Sandpiper

Brent Geese numbers are building as are duck numbers; especially Wigeon. As autumn progresses the number and variety of wading birds is constantly providing interest. It is always worth scanning the more common species to find something a bit different. Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints mixed in with the more common Dunlins and elegant Spotted Redshanks and Greenshanks venturing deeper in the water than their cousin the Common Redshank. One of the nicest wading birds to appear at RSPB Frampton Marsh this autumn was a Pectoral Sandpiper. This beautiful wader breeds in North America and Siberia and would normally migrate south from the other side of the Arctic Circle.

Pectoral Sandpiper Feeding

This individual seemed to enjoy the company of some Black-tailed Godwits.

Black-tailed Godwit

Fallow Deer

The herd of Fallow Deer that I talked about in the spring edition of Country Eye have not yet lost their dappled summer coats. Compare the photograph in the spring edition with the one here taken in September to see how much they have changed.

Ian Misselbrook

October 2019

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