This very morning there was a distinct hint of Autumn in the air. The odd cobweb and the chilly damp in the air gave a September feel already. The house martins are long gone and the general hurly burly of feeding and squabbling has abated as young birds have grown and begun to move away. The feeders are much quieter now, and a bag of seed goes quite a bit further! The exception to that is the random collection of ducks around the pond, who usually fall on the corn and push and shove and squabble as it all disappears (right)! Sadly, there have been no further broods this year, and a lone moorhen looks forlornly on from among the waterlily leaves that now rather clutter up the pond. Time to lose quite a few maybe?

One rather nice sighting was at my stepmother’s house in Beckenham. We were sitting quietly in her somewhat overgrown garden, when a quite large and colourful butterfly appeared and alighted on wide stem. As it settled, its wings closed down together so we realised it must be a moth. It really was a riot of colour in the sunshine, and looking it up later, we found it was a Jersey Tiger moth, almost identical to this picture (Left). A surprise pleasure for us all that afternoon. As is this pic (below) of a squirrel on a garage roof – taken by our esteemed editor! Couldn’t resist it!

Just a while ago, some new people in School Lane sadly found a dead bird in their garden. They thought it might be a sparrowhawk, and the pictures they took confirmed it, a youngster, perhaps chasing something and hitting a sudden obstacle. They can reach amazing speeds at times. Not always a popular bird, I know, partly because of their name, I suspect. But like all the raptors, they are important indicators of a healthy population of smaller birds. And they are very handsome birds, so I always like to put in a good word for them!

Talking of raptors, there are two new buzzards behind us here. They’re getting their adult plumage now and filling the air with their mewing calls. They sometimes fly really low across the garden, then turn and climb way up as the sun comes out. Lovely to watch!  And so far, they seem to have escaped the crows’ unwelcome attentions.

Let’s hope that the winter and next year will be kinder to wildlife than this spring and summer has been, with so few early insects and that bitter cold dry spell. The wild variations in temperature, and heavy rainfall followed by virtual drought, have made life hard for many creatures, not to mention us amateur gardeners! Hey! Ho! Next year will be wonderful for wildlife of all kinds. I have spoken!

Lastly – I hope the editors will allow me to say how much we’ve enjoyed our village market over the years – and we will miss them!

THANK YOU to all involved

Sue J