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September 2012

1st (Sat) 11.3 C to 19.4 C / trace / 1.1 hours / SW 1.7 18 Kt.
A dull and grey morning with light drizzle at first, and it would remain generally grey and cloudy for much of the day, a pretty uninspiring start to Autumn 2012. However towards the end of the afternoon some breaks would begin to develop with some spells of sunshine in the evening, and after dusk this would allow some nice views of the full moon as it rose low in the east. Variable amounts of cloud overnight.

2nd (Sun) 12.6 C to 22.5 C / nil / 6.0 hours / W 2.3 15 Kt.
A fairly cloudy morning, though with the odd brighter and sunny spell from time to time, and feeling pleasantly warm. More in the way of sunshine in the afternoon, this helping to push temperatures up to 22.5 C, and it would remain clement and sunny into the evening. Mostly clear overnight with just some patches of high and broken cirrus.

We paid a visit to Londesborough this morning, an attractive estate village located just a mile or two north of Market Weighton. We haven't visited this attractive landscaped park for quite a few years, primarily as the walk is a bit on the short side, and also because it's a popular dog walking area for the residents of both the village and the nearby town. However despite these reservations we nevertheless decided to pay the area a long overdue visit on what was a bright but cloudy morning, with our primary objective being to see whether we could find any interesting Odonata at the ponds which lie in the heart of the estate. Indeed a little bit of research revealed that these ponds had very few, if any, previous records of dragonflies and damselflies and with this in mind we would spend some time around the ponds in the hope we could add at least a few records to this seemingly overlooked site.

The first species we encountered were Common Blue Damselflies, and as the name suggests this was indeed the most common species we recorded with at least six being spotted. This number is a very conservative count and undoubtedly more were present, but access to the water’s edge was nearly impossible except where the pond is crossed by a narrow wooden bridge, and therefore it was hard to accurately assess the true number of damselflies. Perhaps more interesting was the spotting of at least one female Emerald Damselfly on the edge of the reed-bed, a species which we hadn't expected to encounter here and again it would be interesting to know how many more were actually present and whether a sizeable community exists here. Two species of Hawker completed the list of Odonata recorded this morning, with one Southern Hawker hunting over the upper pond, while three Migrant Hawkers were spotted in various parts of the Park.

The ponds additionally hosted some wildfowl, with about half a dozen Gadwall mixed in amongst the resident Mallards, Mute Swans, Moorhens and Coots, while the parkland Oaks hosted at least a couple of Jays, there loud and harsh calls alerting us to their presence. Meanwhile very few butterflies were noted with just a few Speckled Woods and the odd Small White being spotted during our short circuit of the estate, the lack of wildflowers in this area meaning that butterflies are not often recorded in very good numbers or variety. However a few fungi were noted in parts of the grazed grassland, a reminder that autumn is here, with at least three different types being found, though the most numerous were an attractive yellow fungi which I have tentatively recorded as Yellow Field Cap (Bolbitius vitellinus), but if you think differently please get in touch as fungi ID is not my strongest suit.

3rd (Mon) 11.3 C to 22.4 C / nil / 10.0 hours / SW 2.1 20 Kt.
A clear and sunny morning with lots of pleasant late summer/early autumn sunshine, and it would remain largely sunny and warm into the afternoon. It would become somewhat cloudier for an hour or two in mid-afternoon, as thin altostratus moved down from the north, but this cleared again by late afternoon with a sunny and pleasant end to the day with an attractive sunset. Mostly clear overnight.

A few butterflies were in the garden today enjoying the sunshine, with Peacocks the most numerous, while other species noted included a few Large Whites and Speckled Woods. A Silver-Y moth was also recorded amongst the ripening Cottoneaster berries, and a single Migrant Hawker was also spotted and photographed along the northern wall.

4th (Tue) 13.1 C to 22.6 C / nil / 9.1 hours / W 4.0 21 Kt.
A sunny and warm morning with some attractive broken altocumulus and wispy cirrus, and it would remain sunny and largely clear for most of the day, bar some areas of cloud from time to time in the afternoon. Very warm in the early autumn sunshine with a high of 22.6 C. Remaining mostly clear in the evening and overnight with temperatures falling into single figures by the end of the night.

About half a dozen Small Tortoiseshells were seen in the garden today, with other recordings including Peacocks, at least a couple of Speckled Woods, and Large Whites.

5th (Wed) 8.9 C to 20.1 C / nil / 9.5 hours / NW 2.0 17 Kt.
A sunny but chilly start, but it would soon warm up in the early autumn sunshine with temperatures reaching a high of 20.1 C thanks to the abundant and largely unbroken early autumn sunshine. Remaining mostly clear in the evening and overnight with temperatures falling away to about 8 C by dawn.

Three Grey Partridges were filmed in the Parks this morning, while I also managed to get some nice pictures of a Grey Squirrel from my new photography hide (aka the Tool-shed).

6th (Thu) 8.1 C to 20.4 C / nil / 7.0 hours / W 4.3 31 Kt.
A sunny and chilly start again and like most days recently it would remain sunny throughout the day with temperatures soon rising in the early autumn sunshine. Sunny spells in the afternoon and despite a brisk westerly breeze the temperature reached a high of 20.4 C. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening and overnight.

A dozen Cormorants flew over the Parks this morning, heading NNW, while in the recently ploughed fields flocks of gulls were seen, mostly a mixture of Black Headed Gulls and Common Gulls. In the garden a Speckled Wood was seen, as was at least one hunting Migrant Hawker.

7th (Fri) 13.0 C to 23.7 C / nil / 9.0 hours / W 3.8 19 Kt.
A bright and warm morning with good spells of sunshine, and it would remain sunny and very warm for the rest of the day, the temperature reaching a high of 23.7 C. Mostly clear in the evening, but overnight some patches of mist would develop.

There was another beautiful and fiery red dawn this morning. 7 Grey Partridges were also noted in the stubble fields.

8th (Sat) 13.2 C to 23.7 C / nil / 8.2 hours / SW 0.8 13 Kt.
A bright and warm morning, though from time to time areas of stratus and fractured stratus would drift over from the Vale of York. Remaining bright with long spells of sunshine for most of the afternoon, this helping to push temperatures up to 23.7 C again. Mostly clear in the evening and overnight with temperatures falling away to 7.5 C and a heavy autumn dew developing by dawn.

9th (Sun) 7.5 C to 26.1 C / nil / 9.0 hours / SW 2.0 19 Kt.
A clear and cool start with a heavy dew covering the ground, but it would soon warm up as the clear skies and unbroken sunshine pushed temperatures well above average with a high of 26.1 C being recorded in mid-afternoon. However from mid-afternoon onwards the sunshine would become increasingly hazy, and indeed it would become cloudy for a time, but in the evening hazy sunshine would return. Veiled clear skies at first overnight but by the end of the night it would become mostly cloudy.

Found my first Conkers of the year this morning, though only the very smallest ones are now ready with the larger ones still partially white.

10th (Mon) 11.7 C to 20.0 C / 0.8 mm / 3.3 hours / SW 2.9 20 Kt.
A mostly cloudy morning with little in the way of brightness, and it would remain cloudy into the afternoon. However it would brighten up somewhat later in the afternoon with some hazy sunshine, but this wouldn’t last long and thicker cloud would return by mid-evening. Mostly cloudy overnight with some outbreaks of rain after midnight.

11th (Tue) 11.0 C to 16.5 C / trace / 6.4 hours / W 4.7 34 Kt.
A mostly cloudy start with some light rain showers, but by mid-morning this had cleared away with sunny spells for the remainder of the day. Feeling much cooler and fresher however, with a moderate westerly breeze making it feel that bit cooler than the air temperature of 16.5 C suggested (distinctly autumnal). Clear spells in the evening and overnight with the temperature falling to 6.7 C.

12th (Wed) 6.7 C to 15.1 C / 4.1 mm / 1.0 hours / W 2.3 17 Kt.
A bright and chilly start, but by 8am cloud would increase with some light outbreaks of rain for a time. Becoming brighter again by 10am but nevertheless remaining largely cloudy and remaining so into the afternoon. In mid-afternoon some heavier spells of rain would return and these would continue on and off into the early evening, but by dusk this had cleared away with clear spells developing overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall to 5.4 C.

13th (Thu) 5.4 C to 16.6 C / 0.6 mm / 3.0 hours / SW 4.2 28 Kt.
A bright and chilly start but by 10am it would begin to cloud over somewhat and it would remain mostly cloudy for the rest of the day with only a few brief brighter interludes. Mostly cloudy in the evening, though after dusk it would become somewhat clearer for a time before more cloud returned after  midnight. A much milder night than last night.

The last week or so has been very busy in the East Yorkshire countryside, with farmers throughout the area rushing to get in the last of the wheat during the recent beautiful and warm early autumn weather. By the 10th the combines had completed their hard work for yet another year here in Beverley Parks and with the threat of rain baling was likewise concluded the following day, the golden stubble fields looking particularly attractive at the moment while they are still fresh and un-weathered.

The now bare fields have also exposed some of the wildlife which had peacefully dwelled in the cereal fields prior to harvest, including the likes of Roe deer, Grey Partridge and Hares, while in those fields which have been already ploughed flocks of Gulls, the odd Lapwing and small flocks of Golden Plovers have been noted recently. Further wildlife news this week from my local patch included a skein of 20-30 'Grey' Geese heading SE, possibly Pink-feet as I have heard reports of a few now arriving at local wetlands, while a flock of about a dozen Cormorants was additionally spotted on another day. Cormorant sightings are not particularly uncommon here, as the river Hull is no more than 2-3 miles away, but nevertheless I can't remember seeing anymore than 5 at any one time. A Fox was also spotted near Keldmarsh on two occasions this week, while the woods and Willow scrub still host some late singing Chiffchaffs and Willow warblers.

14th (Fri) 9.8 C to 17.4 C / nil / 6.3 hours / W 5.6 33 Kt.
A wild start to the day with blustery rain and squally winds, but this would soon clear with sunny spells developing after 7am. Remaining mostly clear and sunny for the rest of the day, though it would remain blustery however with gusts up to near gale force. Clear spells overnight with the breeze easing by dawn.

15th (Sat) 6.8 C to 20.0 C / nil / 10.1 hours / W 2.2 22 Kt.
A chilly start with clear skies and remaining clear and sunny throughout the morning with temperatures rising to about 20 C, somewhat higher than has been the case in the last few days. More in the way of cloud by the end of the afternoon and in the evening, with variable amounts of cloud overnight.

At least three Red Admirals were in the garden this afternoon, with other species including Large White, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood, and Holly Blue. A Common Darter dragonfly was also seen in the garden, a new species for our garden list.

16th (Sun) 10.3 C to 19.7 C / 0.4 mm / 1.2 hours / SW 2.8 21 Kt.
A cloudy morning with grey skies for the most part, though it was somewhat brighter with some sunny spells in late morning. Cloud increasing again in the afternoon with some outbreaks of rain at times, though most of these were light and of short nature. Cloud and rain clearing in the evening with clear spells overnight.

North Cliffe Wood
On Sunday morning we paid a visit to North Cliffe Wood, hoping to see not only some of the dragonflies which we have enjoyed observing this past summer at this location, but also some of the interesting and varied fungi which comes up in this wood, especially in autumn. Now before we go on I feel that I must point out that my fungi ID skills leave a lot to be desired, and I find separating one brownish fungi from another slightly less brownish fungi almost impossible, but nevertheless despite all this I love to hunt for fungi every autumn and even if I don't know the names I still find these short lived and transient organisms fascinating.

However the amount of fungi on show on Sunday morning was a relative disappointment, and certainly this time last year much more could be found, though hopefully as autumn progresses more and more shall appear on the woodland floor. One of the most conspicuous fungi to be found at this time of year are Grisettes, and sure enough quite a few were spotted on our walk around the wood. However again compared to last year numbers seemed somewhat down, and we weren't able to find any in particularly good condition. Brown Roll-rims were also recorded quite widely on Sunday, these fungi being relatively easy to ID thanks to their furry rolled edges, while a few 'Yellow' Russulas were found here and there, though again none were found in tip-top condition. Finally some Lactarius species were noted in the birch woodland, including a nice clump of what I think were Rufous Milkcaps.

After our short fungi hunt in the wood we headed out onto the heath to look for butterflies and dragonflies. Of the former the variety of species on show was relatively disappointing, but nevertheless the very large number of Speckled Woods on the wing made up for it. Indeed after a poor summer these brown and yellow butterflies are now enjoying a late flourish to the year, hopefully boding well for next year, while other species of butterfly seen this morning included a few Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshell, and Comma.

As for dragonflies the heath was largely dominated by the Darters, with Common Darters being seen in very good numbers. Amongst these at least a few Ruddy Darters were picked out too, the all black legs of this species helping to separate them from the otherwise very similar Common Darters. Along the edge of the heath lots of Migrant Hawkers were hunting too, with perhaps as many as a dozen being spotted at any one time, while a Southern Hawker was also noted 'hawking' on the otherside of the wood. Meanwhile only one Emerald Damselfly was recorded, a contrast to the 100 plus counts earlier in the summer, and indeed this was the only damselfly seen all morning with no sign of Common Blues or Blue-tailed Damselflies now.

Other highlights of the morning were provided by the bird-life of the wood, with a hunting Peregrine being spotted (and heard) on at least three separate occasions. Meanwhile a flock of what sounded like Siskinswas heard, but I wasn't able to find any to actually confirm my suspicions, while at least one Marsh Tit was spotted searching for food amongst the woodland understory near the heart of the wood. Further sightings included Green Woodpecker (heard only), Great-spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, and other typical woodland species such as tits and finches.

17th (Mon) 7.6 C to 17.6 C / 1.3 mm / 5.9 hours / SW 3.0 22 Kt.
A mostly clear and sunny morning, though by the end of the morning cloud would begin to increase. Indeed in the afternoon it would become quite cloudy at times, though nevertheless some sunnier and brighter periods would also manage to break through at times. Cloud increasing and thickening in the evening with some outbreaks of rain overnight, but this would clear by the end of the night with clear skies by dawn.

18th (Tue) 8.4 C to 15.4 C / nil / 10.0 hours / W 5.0 28 Kt.
A clear and sunny morning, though feeling quite cool in the brisk westerly breeze. Remaining mostly sunny and cool in the afternoon, though towards the end of the afternoon cloud would increase somewhat for a short time. However in the evening this cloud would clear away with  mostly clear skies overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall to around 5 C.

19th (Wed) 5.5 C to 15.4 C / 1.2 mm / 9.1 hours / W 2.8 22 Kt.
A clear and chilly start to the day, and remaining sunny and cool throughout the morning, it being made to feel that bit chillier thanks to a brisk westerly breeze. Remaining largely sunny and bright in the afternoon, though around 4pm cloud would increase with a moderate shower passing through. Cloud breaking again by evening with clear skies for the first half of the night, but cloud would increase again towards dawn with light outbreaks of rain by first light.

20th (Thu) 6.7 C to 15.3 C / 4.4 mm / nil / SW 1.9 13 Kt.
A grey morning with outbreaks of light rain, and though it would become somewhat drier by midday it would remain cloudy and grey for the rest of the day. Further outbreaks of rain by the end of the afternoon, heavy at times (30.4 mm/h) and these would continue into the evening. Further rain and/or drizzle overnight, and becoming a little murky by the end of the night.

21st (Fri) 9.6 C to 12.2 C / 0.8 mm / nil / NW 3.8 17 Kt.
A grey and cool morning with outbreaks of rain and/or drizzle, and all in all it felt pretty dreek and uninspiring with no sun being recorded all day. Becoming drier by mid-afternoon however, and after dusk the cloud would quickly break up with clear skies overnight, this allowing temperatures to fall away to 4.4 C.

Some grey Geese flew over in the evening heading westwards. In the hedgerows most berries are now almost ripe, including Haws, Hips, and Elderberries, while in the garden the red fruits of Cottoneaster are starting to join the already ripe Yew berries. The Yew berries are proving quite a draw for the local Squirrels at the moment.

22nd (Sat) 4.4 C to 14.3 C / nil / 9.3 hours / E 0.9 13 Kt.
A clear and cold start to the day, and it would remain sunny and cool for most of the day with plenty of welcome sunshine after two dull days. Indeed in the sun it would feel quite warm despite the modest high of 14.3 C. Remaining clear in the evening and overnight and with light winds the temperature would plummet, reaching a low of 2.2 C (a new September record) with even a touch of frost here and there by dawn.

Quite a good number of Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells are still being seen in the garden on sunnier days, with other species including Speckled Wood, Comma and one late Holly Blue. The Ivy is also abuzz with thousands of other insects, mainly hoverflies and wasps. In the evening another flock of Grey Geese were heard passing over.

23rd (Sun) 2.2 C to 13.4 C / 7.0 mm / 2.0 hours / E 5.3 22 Kt.
A clear and very cold start to the day with even a touch of frost on the roof and in a few other sheltered spots, but as the morning wore on the sun would become increasingly hazy as cirrostratus invaded from the south. Indeed by the afternoon it would become grey and overcast and would remain so throughout the rest of the day, and indeed throughout the evening and overnight. The cloud would thicken after midnight with some periods of rain with the breeze also freshening from the ESE.

A beautiful start to the day down by the river Hull this morning with temperatures no more than 1 C, mist hanging over the fields and steam rising from the still relatively warm river. Hundreds of Geese were also heard in the area while a few groups of Cormorants were seen passing overhead.

24th (Mon) 5.7 C to 12.9 C / 22.8 mm / nil / SW 3.5 21 Kt.
A wet and unappealing morning with persistent rain and drizzle which was accompanied by a moderate to fresh easterly breeze. Somewhat drier for a time in the afternoon, though remaining overcast throughout with still some light drizzle in the air, but after 4pm a spell of prolonged and heavy rain would move in and continue well into the evening (peak rate of 22.2 mm/h). Remaining overcast with further outbreaks of rain overnight.

25th (Tue) 8.0 C to 12.4 C / 11.1 mm / nil / SE 1.8 23 Kt.
Another dull and wet start to the day with outbreaks of moderate to heavy rain, though by 9am the rain would begin to ease somewhat with just some outbreaks of light rain and/or drizzle for the remainder of the morning and into the afternoon. However after 3pm some very heavy outbreaks of rain would return with a peak rainfall rate of 69.4 mm/h (this causing some minor flooding in the garage) but by dusk the rain would begin to fizzle out with it becoming dry by late evening. Variable amounts of cloud overnight.

26th (Wed) 6.7 C to 16.3 C / trace / 2.7 hours / NW 2.5 16 Kt.
A bright morning with some weak sunshine, but it would be cool and very damp after all the recent rain with everything still dripping wet (very autumnal indeed). Variable amounts of cloud in the afternoon with some sunny spells, but the cloud would also be thick enough to produce the odd insignificant shower from time to time. Largely cloudy in the evening but overnight some decent clear spells would develop, particularly latterly.

27th (Thu) 7.7 C to 14.8 C / 3.9 mm / 4.0 hours / W 1.5 18 Kt.
A bright and sunny morning with just some broken cloud, though after midday cloud would increase with it becoming mostly cloudy for the rest of the afternoon. The cloud would become thick enough for a short spell of heavy rain around 4pm (peak rate of 30.0 mm/h), but this wouldn’t last long. Nevertheless it would remain cloudy for the rest of the day. Mostly cloudy at first overnight but clear spells would develop later.

Collected about half a dozen Conkers on the Westwood this morning, with most now at their gorgeous best.

Autumn storms & late butterflies
The last few days have brought plenty of rain to the local area, but thankfully here in the south-eastern corner of Yorkshire we have escaped any significant flooding of the sort which has and continues to bring much misery to the western and northern parts of the county. In total 41 mm (1.61 inches) has been recorded at my weather station near Beverley (East Yorkshire) in the last few days, nearly a month's worth of precipitation, but these figures pale into insignificance compared to some of the figures which have been reported from more upland locations such as Ravensthorpe in the Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire which has recorded 131 mm (5.16 inches) since Sunday. However even some lowland sites have received more than 100 mm (4 inches) in northern areas of Yorkshire over the same time period, with Leeming being one such location (bear in mind the average precipitation for September is usually little more than 50 mm / 2 inches). Hopefully things will settle down for the remainder of the month and indeed into October, but with winter coming the threat of further flooding in the months ahead must be a real concern.

However it hasn't been all doom and gloom lately and it has been heartening to see autumn continue to manifest itself in the natural world of the local area. A growing number of trees, especially Horse Chestnuts are now showing tint, while these same trees are now providing plenty of Conkers which even at my age I can't resist collecting as they are such beautiful objects to behold, especially fresh from their spiny and tough shells. Indeed most berries and nuts are ripe now and it's a wonderful time to go out and collect a few, be it for delicious deserts or winter preserves, though of course if you do so please try to leave plenty for the birds and small mammals for whom these natural larders are far more important in terms of surviving the coming winter than they are for us over-feed (at least in my case) human beings. At the moment nature's harvest is providing mixed yields, with Blackberries very hit and miss this year,Rose-hips being plentiful, and Sloes generally disappointing in amounts and size (in sharp contrast to last year), though nevertheless I'm sure we'll be able to collect more than enough for a few bottles of warming sloe gin for the cold winter evenings ahead.

Despite the cooler and wetter weather a decent variety of butterflies are still to be found (at least in the garden anyway) with the now flowering Ivies on the garden walls being the major draw. Ivy is one of my favourite plants, proving a last supper for so many insects at this time of year, as well as of course providing deep cover for nesting birds in spring, and for this reason I try to encourage it where I can. As a result early autumn is actually one of the best times for butterflies in our garden, and at the moment we have good numbers of Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Commas, Speckled Woods and even some late Holly Blues on any sunnier and warmer afternoons. Meanwhile the 'visible migration' of birds is now apparent on most days, with Skylarks and Pipits being heard as they pass overhead, especially in the mornings, while waders are often heard on the move after nightfall, and a few skeins of Geese have also been seen passing overhead on a number of recent evenings. Though I know such events are an annual occurrence and I have witnessed such changes many times before, I nevertheless never fail to be moved by such sights and sounds which year after year strengthen my love for the natural world, as well as the land which I choose to call home from where I watch these transient acts of nature unfold.

28th (Fri) 7.2 C to 14.5 C / 0.4 mm / 1.6 hours / SW 2.4 22 Kt.
A bright start with broken cloud, but after 8am it would become overcast with outbreaks of mostly light drizzle. Remaining mostly cloudy through the morning, but in the afternoon some brighter spells would begin to develop. However a few showers would also develop, though most of these were short lived and not particularly heavy. Variable amounts of cloud in the evening, with a couple more showers, but overnight these would die out with clear spells developing.

29th (Sat) 6.7 C to 14.8 C / nil / 8.3 hours / W 4.0 30 Kt.
A clear and sunny morning, though feeling cool in a moderate SW breeze which would gust up to 30 knots around midday. Remaining bright and breezy in the afternoon, the wind pegging temperatures back again, though by evening the wind would ease. Mostly clear for much of the night, with a very bright full moon lighting up the area, but towards the end of the night cloud would begin to increase from the west with cloudy skies by dawn.

30th (Sun) 6.6 C to 16.7 C / 0.8 mm / 0.3 hours / SW 2.5 26 Kt.
A cloudy morning for the most part, though some brighter periods would break through at times during mid-morning. However in the afternoon the cloud would become thicker with even some spells of mostly light rain at times, and it would remain grey and dull into the evening with some further outbreaks of rain. Cloud breaking after 8pm with variable amounts of cloud for the rest of the night.

Kilnwick Percy
Today we decided to visit the Madhyamaka Buddhist Centre located at Kilnwick Percy (just outside Pocklington), and despite the dark grey skies and the threat of rain we enjoyed a very pleasant walk around the parkland and woodlands of this peaceful rural retreat. This area is a good spot for casual birding, with a few regionally scarce birds being found within the parkland environs such as Jays andNuthatches, though only the former was seen and heard this morning. A Red Kite was also seen towards Nunburnholme, while the woodlands also hosted Treecreepers, a good number and variety offinches and tits, and at least half a dozen Mistle Thrushes. Meanwhile around the lake a couple of late singing Chiffchaffs were heard amongst the Willows, while the avian highlight of the morning also came in this area in the form of about a dozen Redpolls, the first I've seen this autumn.

Further interest this morning was provided by some fungi in the woodland, including a few Yellow Russulas and other typical autumn fungi one would expect to find at this time of year, while the increasing amounts of colour and tint appearing in the woodlands and parkland trees provided some welcome splashes of colour, all the more welcome as colour is now fast disappearing from the countryside as wildflowers become more and more scarce as October beckons.