Birding in September and October

The activity of wildlife out in your garden changes with every season and autumn is another busy one! In fact, autumn is a brilliant time for watching all sorts ofwildlife. Birds, insects and mammals are visibly out and about eating as much as possible at the moment to enable them to embark on their various autumn activities, many of which can be quite tough on animals, particularly the really tiny ones. For example, a trip across the Channel and then all the way down to southern Africa for some, storing up for an unpredictable (but certainly very cold) winter in the UK for others and there’s those who will be finding a safe spot to hibernate as well as feeding like crazy to give them the best chance of waking up again the following spring.

As soon as they feel they have enough stored up energy to make it through the voyage, it’ll be time to say farewell to a few birds that may have become regular visitors throughout the summer. These species include Chiff Chaff, Willow Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Swifts, House Martin, Swallow and Cuckoo – many of which don’t feed from our garden feeders but most of us will have got used to them screeching above head on warm summer evenings.

But it’s not all ‘goodbyes’, we get to welcome some wonderful winter birds that will travel to the UK to stay for winter from much colder climates, such as Russia, Scandinavia and North Eastern Europe. It will still be a bit early to expect them yet but it’s worth looking out for species like Brambling, Redwing, Waxwing and Fieldfare in coming months.

 

Give your birds high-energy and suet foods

In order to see as much as possible through autumn you need to make sure wildlife has a reason to want to visit your garden in the first place. Your regular feathered visitors will be on the look out for high-energy foods and suet treats to build themselves up for the challenges that autumn holds in store for them. Those that are migrating need enough energy to fly across the Channel and those that are staying in the country will be actively finding a safe ‘base-camp’ in which to shelter through the cold season.

Just by leaving appropriate foods out for your garden birds is enough to entice them to your garden in the first place, but in order to keep them there so you can enjoy watching them in the comfort of knowing that you’re doing your bit to help them survive, you need to provide a constant, reliable food source for them. One too many disappointing trips to an empty bird feeder and they’ll be off before you know it finding food elsewhere! Without a doubt, now is the time to make sure you’re all stocked up for the busy autumn season so you can provide the perfect reliable sanctuary for them.

 

Recommended foods for autumn

Suet Balls
Our suet balls contain over 80g of top-quality suet packed with sunflower seeds and other nutritious mixed seeds. The ultimate fatty snack for birds as the weather cools off

Suet Ball Feeder PLUS 6 FREE Suet Balls
This is a great starter pack for autumn and winter bird feeding and is sure to bring all sorts of species flocking to your garden.

Premium Quality Peanuts
This is a traditional autumn and winter food for garden birds. They absolutely love peanuts – they’re packed full of nutritious oils.

Ultiva® Gold
This nutritious, oil-rich mix has been specially blended to give you the best all-round food for your garden birds.

 

Time for wildlife to find shelter
With the summer season drawing to a close and all the familiar signs of autumn appearing, things begin to move on in the world of wildlife again.

After making sure they’ve got sufficient food, the next thing to think about is shelter. It’s now a known fact that there is simply not enough nesting holes and natural roosting spots for our birds to shelter over winter and to nest in during spring. This is the perfect time of year for hanging new nest boxes or relocating old ones that have been empty for a while. If you have a nest box in your garden that has been unoccupied for a year or more, chances are that it’s not in an ideal location. The main things to remember when locating a nest box are: Face away from strong northerly or easterly winds but at the same time it must face away from direct sunlight, ideally they should be secured around 6’ up the tree to reduce ‘swaying’ and finally, away from smothering vegetation that will make it tricky to nip in and out of the nest box. Remember, you can never have enough nest boxes in your garden and if all located suitably, they’ll all be occupied by next spring and you’ll really be making a difference to the success of many of the UK’s favourite breeds of birds.

Hibernation
When it comes to shelter, don’t forget all of the other wildlife in your garden too. If you have a Clematis, Creeper or Ivy growing in your garden and you decide to give it an autumn tidy-up, be aware that it will already be home to thousands of hibernating insects including butterflies and ladybirds, sheltering from frosts to come. Instead of removing a majority of it, just give it a neatening trim and you should be able to maintain its warm, sheltering qualities. Also, remember to spare a thought for any hibernating mammals that may have found refuge in your garden. Any cosy little spot could be a potential sheltering space including a pile of leaves or twigs. The most important thing to remember is to check beneath any bonfire sites before setting alight to them to check for sleepy hedgehogs!

 

Top-up bird baths with clean, fresh water

Once both food and shelter are checked on your list, last but not least is water. Autumn isn’t always the driest of seasons and rainfall can be quite frequent, but what with the leaves dropping and rotting in water puddles, ponds and bird baths everywhere, water sources can quickly become stagnant which is as unappealing to birds as it is to us. Make sure you clean out and top up your bird baths regularly so your feathered friends can continue to drink and bathe in fresh clean water.

Making sure your garden is a haven for wildlife in the autumn will help enormously with the survival of our much-loved native species and will pay dividends if you enjoy watching them in your garden. So stock up today and enjoy the host of fantastic creatures visiting your garden through this beautiful season.

The end of the moulting season

Every summer, birds under-go their annual process of re-feathering. During this time they look very scruffy indeed, even ill-looking. Thankfully they’re not ill, they’re just moulting their old feathers in place of good healthy new ones.

Moulting season typically starts around July and throughout August, however you may still find a few around September and October time that still haven’t quite got back to their normal selves. The bird garden is usually quite quiet during moulting season because the birds tend to feel vulnerable without their full set of feathers and are hanging on to every bit of energy they have. Do your best to help them through this season by leaving high-protein foods out in your feeders, such as Ultiva® High Protein Insect Mix. Also it’s important to make sure their food supply is constantly available, even if it appears to not be being eaten. It’s important they know they have somewhere to feed if they need to. Besides, a treat such as Ultiva® would be hard to resist for any of your feathered visitors.