Kate Humble column: The wonders of September

Kate Humble
Kate Humble

I love September. For some it means the end of summer; leaves are slowly turning shades of brown and red, days are getting shorter, and temperatures are slowly cooling. For me, though, September is a wonderful month - the air is still warm, there are blackberries to pick and the country basks in the georgeous golden light of early autumn.

It is also a busy time for our wildlife and one of the best times of year for watching it. Our migrant birds will be preparing to head south; telephone wires will be full of chattering swallows all lining up for the marathon ahead. Other animals will be preparing for winter. If you are lucky to live in a part of the country that still has red squirrels, this is the season where they are at their most visible, foraging in the undergrowth and building up their winter stores.

The colours of your garden will begin to morph from greens to rich reds, golds and russets. The leaves on trees will gently start to turn, and vegetable gardens will be full of things to harvest. Look out for squash, courgettes and tomatoes in particular – a great basis for a lovely ratatouille or some jars of chutney. You may also have autumn raspberries and the first hand-picked crisp apples of the season that could make up a delicious pie.

There is some planting you can do too – lettuce, spring cabbage and winter spinach – and this is also a good month to do a bit of tidying in the garden. However, your resident wildlife will thank you for leaving seed heads, teasels, thistles and sunflower heads – all rich pickings for birds like the handsome goldfinch. And remember piles of leaves, stacks of wood and compost heaps all proved valuable habitat for a huge number of species and feeding grounds for many more!

Autumn is a good time of year for moths. Moths are often overlooked in favour of their more garish day-time counterparts, butterflies, but moths come in an extraordinary number of shapes, colours and sizes and with over two thousand species recorded in the British Isles the chances of regularly seeing new ones are very high. Another nocturnal specialist, the bat, chooses the Autumn as mating season, so if you want to see these fascinating creatures, this is the perfect time of year to do it.

The RSPB has recently launched it’s biggest-ever campaign, Giving Nature a Home.

To find out more, and to get your free guide on how you can give nature a home in your outside space, visit rspb.org.uk/homes

Kate.