End of summer

The last day of August and this morning there was frost on the ground!  At first I thought it was just a heavy dew, it looked beautiful, the sun breaking through burning off the last of the low cloud and mist rising from the field and moor but once I got out with the dogs and was picking up the inevitable deposits I realised that the grass wasn't just wet it was dusted with ice and a careful prod revealed that the thistles were frozen solid.

It's one of the things I love most about living in the countryside - this connection with the natural world and watching the changing of the seasons. 

Summer still clings on and if the weather forecast is to be believed we might get a final flourish with a mini-heatwave this weekend.  The summer migrants are making the most of it; swallows are busy hawking across the field and the house martins are raising another brood if the egg shells under the nests are anything to go by.  A female blackcap, a relatively rare summer visitor for us, has been fattening up on the ripe, red berries on the yew tree outside my office window.
Rowan berries against a threatening pewter sky

However, it's obvious that autumn is lurking in the wings ready to take centre stage: the last swifts were spotted on the sixth, the huge apple crop is ripening and colouring up, like the yew the rowan berries are bright red and the field maple in the hedge has shed a few yellow leaves already, the spiky horse chestenut conker cases are swelling and standing out bright green against the fading foliage.  I’ve been hearing robins calling out their territories for a few weeks and through the week there has been quite a song battle going on every morning. Hearing the robin whistles never fails to bring a smile to my face, being a winter loving person it’s a signal that colder days are on their way.

The blackbirds have returned to the garden decked out in shiny new feathers having moulted the ones made tatty by raising multiple broods of chicks who even though they are now full grown and have their own new feathers continue to harass parents for food, although now the parents are having none of it and are chasing the youngsters away – time to go find your own territories little ones.