OCTOBER – What to look out for
Welcome to October!
We are well into the autumn and this can be a lovely time of year with lots going on.
While the summer birds have gone south to find warmer climates, the winter birds are coming here from colder countries further north. We may not think it, but our winters are relatively warm for these northern birds which will stay until spring. They will spend the winter feeding on the salt marsh and the pools in the reserve.
Also keep an eye out for snipe around the muddy pool edges. They are well camouflaged waders so take some spotting!
|Shoveler are named for their big scoop of a bill, but the males are most easily recognised by their white and chestnut sides.|
|Wigeon are neat and dainty ducks; usually found in good numbers on the North Pools in mid-winter as well as out on the Saltmarsh.|
|Teal are the smallest of our ducks and are also fond of the Saltmarsh. They also seem to prefer the cover and shallow water of the South Pool to the open spaces of the North Pool, so this can be the best place to see them well.|
The numbers of waders like dunlin and redshank will also increase during October and November. Dunlins may be dumpy little wading birds, but they fly along the tide line in large mesmerising flocks (flings of dunlins).
The larger redshanks will also become increasingly numerous now, identifiable by their long red legs and long red bills. Add to that the haunting calls of the long-legged, long-beaked curlews echoing across the salt marsh. All in all it is a lovely place to stand and stare during autumn and winter.
In the hedgerows
October is a time of plenty. Though the blackberries may be starting to run out there are lots of other berries to keep wildlife fed. Look out for the glossy red hawthorn berries and red rose hips. Rose hips, contain the seeds of the rose and are jam packed with vitamin C. Field mice will climb along the slender stems to reach them if the thrushes don’t get them first. Other small mammals can join in this feast by picking up berries when they fall to the ground.
Insects and butterflies will benefit from the over mature fruit on offer now. While tempting ripe seeds are on the menu for the likes of goldfinches and linnets.
Where there is fruit and seeds there is likely to be wildlife, so look closely.
Flowers may be in short supply now that summer is over so insects that rely on pollen and nectar have to search harder in October. This is where the ivy flowers come to the rescue. Ivy is a fantastic plant for wildlife and will keep flowering into November. You can read more about ivy here.