By Andreas Kornevall
Now is the season that you start to see a glint of gold sprinkled across the woodland canopy and heavy seed heads drooping alongside roads and garden paths.
Contrary to popular belief, the yellowing of leaves is not caused by colder weather, but the result of the slow reduction of daylight and photosynthesis.
Harvest time was the busiest time in pre-industrial Britain, involving a range of manual tasks: weeding, reaping, binding and threshing.
Further back, the pagan Anglo-Saxons (according to the historian Bede), called September the Haleg-Monath, or ‘Holy Month.’ It was a time for feasting and celebrating the fruits of labour.
On cue, the hedgerows are full of generous gifts this month with ripened rose hips, cherry, sea buckthorn, bilberry and blackberries. In the spirit of a feast, or just to fend off any Corona-induced anxiety, consider baking an apple and blackberry crumble.
Apples grown and collected now are easy to store over autumn, so long as they are in a cool, damp and ventilated environment; make sure you wrap each apple in newspaper to prevent mould.
Birds are migrating to balmier locations and nature is quietening down. The yellowhammer, however, continues to sing unabated throughout this season – one has been recorded singing 3,482 songs in one day! Sadly the yellowhammer’s song is rarer than it was.
Ornithologists tell us that most birdsong is fifty percent connected to mating and warning calls and the other fifty percent is just for singing’s sake. This implies that birds sing for pleasure and practice their art everyday.
Closer to the ground, as the combine harvesters do their work and fields fall fallow, look out for two large ears behind the haystacks; the hare is easier to spot now especially around dusk – always a delightful event if you manage to see one.
Positive ecological restoration news
Red kites in the UK
July marked the 30th year since Red kites were reintroduced to the UK from Spain. After years of persecution, which diminished the populations to only a few breeding pairs, the species is now witnessed across every part of the UK with a 10,000 strong population.
Pine martens showing successful comeback
Pine martens have faced extensive persecution and loss of forest habitat during the past two centuries, resulting in Scotland being their only remaining stronghold. The reintroduction scheme in the Forest of Dean in Gloucester is a first of its kind, and after 18 animals were introduced, it has now been revealed that at least 3 females have given birth.
One of the rarest bird species in the UK, the bittern, once thought extinct here, has successfully bred for the first time in over two centuries. At the Newport Wetlands nature reserve in Wales, this summer was like no other for many generations as they witnessed bittern chicks in two separate nests.
The bearded vulture is another of Britain’s rarest birds, and one of the hardest to witness in the wild. It was no surprise then that bird enthusiasts flocked to the Peak District this summer when a juvenile settled there – the species’ first appearance in four years.
September moon phases
The Autumn Equinox 2020 in the Northern Hemisphere will be at 14:30 on Tuesday, 22 September. The Harvest Moon is the first full moon that appears after the equinox, the next one will be on the 1st of October.
SPRING: 2 – 7 September NEAP: 8 – 15 September SPRING: 16 – 23 September NEAP: 24 – 30 September
Andreas Kornevall is a Swedish storyteller, writer and ecologist. He is Director of Operations for Earth Restoration Service, a charity based in the UK