The morning streets are filled with uniform-clad children and school bells ring out across playgrounds. So the kids are back in school and the days are shorter but don’t let this stop your family connecting with nature. Steal moments in your busy days to notice how the wildlife and wild places around you are changing as Autumn arrives. There’s something new to learn for all of us.
As Autumn creeps in apples are ripening in orchards and gardens. Try picking the fruit and join an apple pressing workshop to transform them into delicious juice.
Ever fancied learning fire-lighting skills and cooking on an open fire? Want to build a survival shelter? Try a bushcraft and survival skills session and feel a connection to human history.
With the evenings drawing in look for bats silhouetted against the sky, swooping for food. Learn about their night-time world at a family bat night. Bats bounce high frequency calls off objects around them and build a picture of their landscape from the returning echoes. Wildlife Trust experts will help you find when bats are around using bat detectors.
Passed on through generations
This year’s summer-born youngsters are fully fledged and ready for take-off. Swallows, sand martins and house martins are still here, but not for much longer. Look out for gangs of birds lining up on telephone wires. Warmer climates beckon and they will set off on their mammoth migration – around 10,000 miles across Europe and Africa.
Some migratory birds learn the routes from their parents who navigate using familiar landmarks and coastlines. Others may use the earth’s magnetic field. Scientists have found magnetite in birds’ beaks and ears; this mineral is easily magnetised and could be the key to their navigation skills.
A time of renewal
Over 40 species of dragonfly and damselfly live in the UK and, despite their delicate appearance, they are voracious hunters. Watch for them skimming across ponds but also in fields, hedgerows and your own garden. Dragonflies are busiest on warmer days when they feast on mosquitoes, midges, butterflies and even smaller dragonflies.
With an average lifespan of only a month it’s time for them to quickly build up their strength, ready to lay eggs to begin the next generation.
The hunter and the hunted
Dragonflies are themselves prey to another winged hunter, the hobby, a bird of prey who visits the UK for the summer. The red arrow of the wild world, with its ability to manoeuvre at speed, hobbies catch dragonflies in their talons, even feeding on them mid-flight. To identify a hobby look for a bird the size of a kestrel with narrower, longer wings, like a giant swift with a flash of orange underneath.
Make September the month you spot something new in the wild and learn more about the wild places around you.