Wildlife: Many birds have either left or are preparing by feeding up

It is now the time of the changing seasons, as the late warmth and sunshine seem to drift into a colder and more autumnal chill.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 2:20 pm
Updated Friday, 1st October 2021, 2:20 pm

Sent in by reader / photographer Peter Wolstenholme, this photograph of a swallow in flight over the fields near Woodhouse shows the bird busy re-fuelling before the long flight to its southern wintering grounds.Many birds have either left or else are busily preparing by feeding up. The seedeaters are in grasslands and field margins to forage on late summer harvests from the ripening wildflowers. Thrushes such as blackbirds and other berry-feeding birds gorging on hawthorn, rowan, and other shrubs scavenge along hedgerows and woodland edges.

Then over meadows and skimming open water, insectivorous birds like swallows and house martins will hawk after small flying insects. All these are high-energy foods that are so important at this time of year. The migrating birds need to build up body fat for the demands of long-distance travel that lie ahead.

There are other indications of seasonal change and autumn on its way. I was up at Farndale in North Yorkshire this week and there were pink-footed geese passing noisily overhead. Flying high, skeins of V-formation geese were calling loudly with their characteristic high-pitched unk-unk, wink-wink-wink audible long before the birds become visible. The movement was almost continual for around two hours so I expect there have been good-sized flocks down on wet grassland and stubble fields around the Humberhead Levels and nearby nature reserves. The geese may drop down to feed in South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, but most likely will then move further south to the Wash and Norfolk. Other flocks will be moving down the west coast of northern England and then hop over northwest to southeast across the South Pennines. At this point, they pass low over centres such as Sheffield and Chesterfield; so listen up and watch out. In addition, whilst in North Yorkshire the local red kites were presenting nice aerial displays with plenty of swooping and diving.

Swallow, flying high speed refuelling at East Park Fields Woodhouse taken by Peter Wolstenholme.

Professor Ian D. Rotherham, researcher, writer & broadcaster on wildlife & environmental issues, is contactable on [email protected]