Birds leave the British winter behind them

PUBLISHED: 12:26 08 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:12 28 May 2010

September is one of the most exciting months of the year. This is the month when hundreds of thousands of migrant birds are making their way through, across, over and past the British Isles by air, sea and land. Many of the birds you see will be making so

September is one of the most exciting months of the year. This is the month when hundreds of thousands of migrant birds are making their way through, across, over and past the British Isles by air, sea and land.

Many of the birds you see will be making some sort of journey this month. Very few birds occupy the same area throughout the year and it is only the truly resident species such as the stay-at-home robins in your garden and woodland residents like woodpeckers that won't be moving some distance this month.

Some birds will only go a few miles, probably moving out into the countryside for a few weeks, but for others the journey takes on epic proportions.

Most of us will have seen our last swift of 2006 now. They are well on their way to South Africa along with many other birds that we know as summer visitors. Another summer has gone and once again I ask myself: "Did I really spend enough time watching them this year?"

The truth is I probably spent more time than the vast majority of people watching them, being the keen birdwatcher that I am, but the realisation that summer is over is forced home by their departure.

There is still time to enjoy the last of the butterflies, but many individuals now are tatty and faded. Their job of reproducing is over and the majority can end their time on this Earth happy in the knowledge they have contributed to the survival of their kind.

I always pity these sun-lovers on the days when the sun doesn't come out. It really is amazing where they all go and yet as soon as the sun comes out, they appear as if by magic. When it is cloudy they remain out of sight hidden in vegetation, but no doubt many legends and myths were formed in the past based on this behaviour.

Dragonflies are sturdier, appear physically tougher and seem much more suited to the late summer and early autumn weather. Common darters and migrant hawkers are probably the two commonest species in most areas locally in September.

Both are strong fliers that can cope with the occasional September periods of strong, gusty winds. As the month wears on, they wear themselves and their wings start to show signs of wear with small tears appearing. None survive winter in the familiar adult dragonfly stage, but their eggs are safe at the bottom of ponds and in waterside vegetation.

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