Just as summer was about to bow out, it has come back again! Nonetheless, the autumnal harbingers are everywhere and there’s no going back now.
At the weekend, I saw my first big skeins of pink-footed geese heading westward, their evocative calls heralding dark nights and dropping temperatures. The robins have now changed their tune and their more hushed winter song is now in favour. All other birds with the possible exception of the dipper, have stopped singing until spring.
I took advantage of the fine weather at the weekend to bring in the first of my autumnal wild harvest. With sloe berries scarce this year, I decided to make some rosehip wine, after a few years abstinence. They are best gathered after a frost which sweetens them, but if you wait too long, they become too soft and messy to pick. I managed to find enough firm ones to make a gallon of wine and a night in the freezer replicated a good frosting.
In previous years I have found the colour of the wine a bit anaemic, so this year I have added some black rosehips, taken from cultivated plants.
It has only just started to ferment, but already the skins of the black hips have given it a beautiful rich red colour.
I was beginning to despair of ever having a decent late summer display of butterflies in the garden, as the weather has been totally uncooperative. My buddleia was past before the good weather came and I thought that my Michaelmas daisies were going to be frosted before they came into bloom. My sedum however came to the rescue at the weekend, filling the gap nicely. Its flowering coincided with the sunny weather and at the weekend it was a magnet for bees and butterflies. As well as the many small tortoiseshells, I was pleased to see a lovely fresh comma. It was very confiding and allowed me to approach quite closely to get some nice close ups – one of which I have used as my picture this week.
My rare marsh tit is still coming regularly to my garden feeders and I received an e-mail from John in Gullane, who has a similar visitor coming to his garden.
Don’t forget to let me know if you have any interesting wildlife encounters, either in the garden or the wider Borders countryside. Drop me an e-mail (and picture if possible) to firstname.lastname@example.org