Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 26, 2016

On the move

Three weeks since my last post… how remiss of me!!

It is to the changing seasons that I look as a way of returning to the fold.  The autumn is as distinctive a season as any other.  Fruit-heavy branches followed by the colours changing leaves scarcely requires a reminder, such are their iconic qualities as signals of the season at hand.  The seasonal flux can however, be more subtle.  Take for example, the movements of birds.  Not all migratory movements involve birds by the hundreds, such as can be seen on my local coastline with the brent geese beginning their return to the Essex shoreline for another winter.  Other passings might slip past unnoticed, except perhaps by the keener birdwatcher.

Take for instance, the little wheatear.  Somewhere between robin and song thrush in size, these are summer visitors often associated with northern and western upland breeding grounds in the UK.  But on migration they can appear almost anywhere, feeding up as they journey southwards.  Earlier this month, at the RSPB’s West Canvey Marshes reserves they were doing just that in the company of another small migrant, the whinchat.

And not only birds.  One of those recent, balmy mid-September days brought an impressive list of butterflies at the Canvey Wick nature reserve.  This remarkable area of land was once intended as an extension to the oil refinery on Canvey Island in the 1960s.  Early foundations were laid only for plans to be abandoned.  Nature reasserted itself in impressive fashion, so that now it is one of the richest places for invertebrates in the whole of England.  Rubbing antennae with the brown argus, wall brown and other butterflies on this occasion was a clouded yellow, a strongly migratory butterfly occurring each year in variable number and unmistakable with their rich yellow wings.  They will attempt to hibernate here but are unable to survive the British winter.

Don’t lament the passing of summer, but enjoy the shifting of the seasons in all of their subtleties.


Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus). Ross Gardner 2016.

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