Enjoy some wildlife watching this autumn

The evenings are drawing in, leaves are turning golden and there’s a bite in the morning air –it’s officially autumn. It is a time of change both in our weather but also in our birdlife.

By Angela Mahon - RSPB
Friday, 1st October 2021, 2:04 pm
Watch out for beautiful whooper swans
Watch out for beautiful whooper swans

The evenings are drawing in, leaves are turning golden and there’s a bite in the morning air –it’s officially autumn.

It is a time of change both in our weather but also in our birdlife. As the last of our summer visitors such as swallows and warblers, fly off in search of another summer, many other birds start arriving to our shores to spend the autumn and winter here.

Along our coasts and wetlands, thousands of ducks, geese, swans and wading birds will start to return to our waters. Migrating knots are beginning to arrive after leaving their summer breeding grounds in the Arctic.

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These stocky little birds are brick-red in the summer but turn a delicate shade of grey in the winter.

They favour estuaries and mudflats, where they will forage for shellfish and worms, before roosting at high tide.

They can be spotted alongside the migrant flocks of black-tailed godwits, wigeon, redshanks, dunlins and curlews at Belfast’s Window on Wildlife, our nature reserve in Belfast Harbour.

As we head into October, listen out for the noisy trumpeting calls which herald the arrival of whooper swans from Iceland.

High above you might even be lucky enough to spot them flying in a classic V formation - an incredibly beautiful sight to witness and one worth waiting for.

Our picturesque Portmore Lough reserve is a great place to spot them - so why not visit at some point during this autumn season?

The Icelandic whooper swans will spend the autumn and winter in large flocks feeding on the fields around the reserve, returning to roost on the lough at dusk.

Meanwhile in our countryside and gardens, some of our autumn visitors can be hidden in plain sight.

Bramblings which are often confused with chaffinches due to their similar shape and size, can start to arrive here from October, another wonder of wildlife to behold.

They often mingle with chaffinches, joining their flocks during the winter months. To distinguish a brambling, look out for its white rump and listen for its nasal ‘te-ehp’ call. These are beautiful birds to behold indeed.

There are many more amazing nature spectacles to look out for this autumn, from fabulous fungi to hedgerow harvests. So it’s a magical time to explore outdoors. Get outside and enjoy beauteous wildlife this season.

For more information about visiting RSPB NI nature reserves or to support our work visit: www.rspb.org.uk/ni.