Month on the Emmbrook
What to look for if you are out and about in
September is a time of change as the tide turns from Summer to Autumn with the Autumnal equinox usually on the 22nd September. The hedgerows are full of ripening berries with Hawthorn haws, Rose hips, Sloes, Blackberries and Elderberries. However make sure that you pick your Blackberries before September 29th St Michaelmas Day . It was once believed that on the feast of St. Michael, the devil spat on the blackberries (or worse!) and it was therefore very unwise to pick and eat the fruit after September 29th. According to the old tale, when St. Michael cast Satan from Heaven, the devil landed on earth in a patch of brambles and he returns every year to spit on the plant that tortured him, breathing his foul breath over it and trampling it. The leaves of the trees are just starting to change to the reds and golds of Autumn and Winter as bird migrants start to appear.
Keep an eye out for Jays. These birds are more noticeable at this time of the year as they stash acorns away for the winter by burying them in the ground. Gathering Swallows & Martins herald the beginning of the great intercontinental shift as northern breeding birds head south.
Insect numbers decline massively as adults of many species die to leave the caterpillars or pupae to survive the winter; however certain insects are more noticeable at this time of year. Around the time of the harvest in August onwards the Craneflies (or Daddy-long-legs) appear in their greatest numbers. September really wouldn.t be the same without one of these clumsy charecters hanging around your porch light.
Squirells become more noticeable again hunting for and hiding acorns for the winter.
Plants & Trees
By September the Horse-Chestnut trees (conker tress) have been showing signs of the changing season for several weeks, already with their large palmate leaves browning at the edges like they have passed too near to a naked flame. The Horse-Chestnut also yields up its seeds this month in the form of conkers which drop to the ground in their spiky green cases.
Other tree species such as Ash, Beech and Sweet Chestnut are also turning with tinges of yellow, orange and light green tinges.
Ivy is one of the few late flowering plants and the nectar forms an important food sources for bees and wasps. There are seven different wasp species in Britain. Common and German wasps seemingly suddenly appear in September but this is because their pattern of obtaining food has changed. Their summer past time of killing insects to feed to the larvae in the nest has come to an end (the larvae provide a sweet saliva in return). This is because their queen has now stopped laying eggs and the food incentive has gone. As a result they then move onto other sweet substitutes, such as the sugars of fallen fruit or the jam in your picnic sandwiches. Unfortunately it is now that wasps, with their ability to sting and not die, become particularly unpopular in the garden.
It was once believed that on the feast of St. Michael, the devil spat on the blackberries (or worse!) and it was therefore very unwise to pick and eat the fruit after September 29th. According to the old tale, when St. Michael cast Satan from Heaven, the devil landed on earth in a patch of brambles and he returns every year to spit on the plant that tortured him, breathing his foul breath over it and trampling it. Many plants have or are setting seeds. Rosebay willow-herb plants are sending out fluffy seed umbrella like structures to carry the seed by the wind to a new location.
Fungi can be found throughout the year but a damp September and October will give rise to a multitude of fruiting bodies yielding billions of spores to spread the species far and wide.