Following the Rolling Stones inspired title of my last post, Bob Dylan’s protest anthem provides the title for this one. I shall not commit myself to continuing the pattern but we shall see!
The Bank Holiday Monday at the end of August and the beginning of September for me signal the beginning of a transition in the seasons rather than the equinox later in the month. I begin to look for signs of change and certainly in the last few days there have been several to see. The Swifts, Swallows and House Martins have made their exit to warmer climes following age old migration routes south across Europe to their winter feeding grounds in Africa. The smell of the air in the mornings has that tinge of autumn – a gradual nip to the air that progresses on to the first frosts. Fully ripened blackberries fill the hedgerows, sloe berries adourn the blackthorn branches, protected by the viscious thorns that make picking them for Christmas sloe gin a challenge once the first frost has arrived. Tits and finches form into mixed winter flocks, adults and juveniles a like and the first tree leaves begin their slow procession through the autumn spectrum of colour.
The pace of change does vary and oddities do surprise. A Spotted Flycatcher was in our garden at the weekend, perching on our naked honeysuckle as the tits and finches fed below on the nuts. It flew from its perch in characteristic stoccato flight to pluck an insect from the air before returning to its sunny perch. I was surprised it had not already departed south with all the insectivores (sic?) but I’m sure it won’t be long before it does.
With the cereal harvest in, the fields surrounding Barwick have been ploughed and farrowed, their bare brown expanse now dotted with pigeons and crows, picking at the last remaining grains. They were joined in last evenings bright sunlight by a magnificent flock of Lapwings and accompanying Starlings and a dash home to grab the camera produced some pleasing shots.
The flock in flight
These fields will see many more winter flocks over the coming months – the Lapwings will continue to visit, joined irregularly by winter migrants such as Redwings and Fieldfares who add colour to the bleak winter beauty of our arable landscape.