26 September 2011

The hallmarks of autumn

One by one the hallmarks of autumn have been falling into place.

The first sign of the season was very punctual indeed. On September 1st I drew open the curtains at the back of my house to catch sight of the season's first early morning mist.

As if alerted by this starting gun, little pockets of swallows and house martins started to gather here, there and everywhere - small fast-feeding families low over river, lake or meadow, preparing for the long journey ahead.

As I gathered the apple harvest in my garden just a few days later I was joined by a handful of juvenile chiffchaffs. These are a regular find in my garden at this time of year, but almost never at any other.

Elsewhere t'internet is full of news of exotic migrant waders and seabirds at hotspots like the nearby Draycote Reservoir (including several manx shearwaters, which I would greatly have liked to have seen). Even litle Napton Reservoir has played host to a black necked grebe for the last couple of weeks.

As the weather has slowly worsened, the temperature of the the water has also dropped notably. This makes the fishing unreliable at best, and without a warming sun it becomes almost impossible to spot the chub in the litte streams I stroll along most lunchtimes.

And of course the darkness, the only bit of winter I truly dislike, draws inexorably nearer - sunset is 7.15pm at the moment and retreating at a rate of knots.

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