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Nature of Britain Calendar: September

Updated Monday, 1st September 2008

Start a compost heap now to provide a habit for a range of small species - and explore the wild world this month

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Do one thing

Create a compost heap to recycle kitchen waste, provide a hibernating space for many animals and produce rich compost material for gardening.

What to look for

September is a fruitful month as plants and animals feast on nuts and berries and prepare for lean times ahead. Look out for berries of elder, woody nightshade, hawthorn, sloe and blackberry.

Keep an eye out too for acorns and conkers. Wood mice gnaw hazelnuts, carving deep grooves in them, and fill up nest-boxes with crab-apples!

In grassy areas brightly coloured waxcap mushrooms are making an appearance, their red and yellow colours standing out against the grass.

Ivy is a valuable source of nectar and attracts droneflies and other hoverflies, late bumblebees and red admiral butterflies.

Devil’s-bit scabious is also very popular with insects in woodland rides and clearings.

On trees and shrubs look out for the striking colours of the pale tussock moth caterpillar.

Many dragonflies are still on the wing including the migrant hawker and common darter.

In some rivers, salmon are travelling upstream to breed.

On wires, swallows and house martins gather before their epic journey to central and southern Africa.

On lakes and reservoirs, drake mallards and other ducks begin moulting into their bright winter feathers.

Did you know

On average, there are 10,000 million insects per square kilometre of habitable land - that’s 10,000 per square metre. Find out more at the Royal Entomological Society website.

Habitat of the month: Seashore

Growth of seaweeds is at its height at this time of year. The water is at its warmest and many marine organisms are busy.

Look in rock pools for crabs, shrimps, periwinkles, limpets and sea anemone.

Photo opportunity: Rock pools

There is a wealth of biodiversity in these tiny ecosystems. Get down close, but make sure your shadow doesn’t fall across your subject. A polarising filter is useful to cut glare from the water surface.

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