There are many signs of Autumn arriving, some more obvious than others, and for me the most significant is a change in the birds and their behaviour. Often around September, after an exhausting breeding season and a subsequent moult into nice new feathers, some species which may have been largely absent in gardens during the summer will return in search of food. Large mixed tit flocks, often interspersed with goldcrests, treecreepers and chiffchaffs, descend on gardens as their natural food supply dwindles. Long-tailed tits will come in search of suet, while the coal and marsh tits favour black sunflowers or sunflower hearts to cache away for the winter. Nuthatches will do the same, and you may notice more regular visits than at other times of year, as they busily collect seeds to cram in to any nook or cranny they can find.
Squirrels and jays are both famous for their 'caching' behaviour, with the latter believed to be the reason for the wide distribution of oak trees in the UK.
October is normally the time when large charms of goldfinches appear in gardens, particularly in the south east, frantically feeding before some head further south to spend the winter. At Feathers we've had a charm of about 20-30 birds regularly visiting the feeders for the sunflower hearts.
Of course, Autumn is also the time for summer migrants departing and winter migrants arriving. We're still seeing the odd one or two house martins and swallows even now, while the first redwings and fieldfares we first spotted a couple of weeks ago.
|Redwing showing how it got its name|