Well, we never had a summer, but autumn is now definitely here. The mornings are darker – very soon I will have to put a light on when the alarm goes off – and I am shutting the curtains earlier and earlier. And what ever the day temperature, it gets cold at night.
As the weather has been bad all summer, it wasn’t a change in that which became noticeable. The first thing I noticed was a change in the sounds while on the daily dog walks. The constant singing of the seals had stopped. The constant screaming of gulls and oyster catchers had stopped. And the constant song of a hundred and one other birds had died to a mutter.
There are fewer birds about. Most of the swallows that left for Africa, the terns for Antarctica and the gulls (and puffins) for the sea. And as yet the winter migrants haven’t arrived. We have various species of geese which are now staying about all summer, but the hundreds of thousands which come down from Greenland and Iceland are not yet here.
Perhaps it is because the numbers of the migrants are low that the other residents are more noticeable. Three times and three days I have seen hawks – a pair of unidentified hawks (probably kestrels from their silhouettes) were hunting on the fields down to the beach; the next day a hen harrier over the moor land; and a female hen harrier trying to see off another hawk the next. I nearly went off the road over this – fortunately there wasn’t another car about so I stopped in the middle of the single tracked road to watch. Quite what the other was I don’t know, but it was a similar bird (though not the usual markings of the juvenile or male hen harrier). I had only popped up to get my drugs from the surgery and hadn’t worn my coat so didn’t have a camera with me unfortunately…. They swooped and dived within feet of me, finally going out of site behind the church.
Unfortunately the gales we had at the end of August have decimated the heather (and my fuchsia bushes!). Instead of acres of purple there are bits of purple amongst the brown wind-scorched stalks. Only the tiny flowers survived the winds, and the eyebright is very white dotted between the brown.