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Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 11:15 UK
Celebrating the changing season

Renee Hockley-Byam
Renee Hockley-Byam
BBC Essex

Holly berries
The holly berries are a good source of food for birds

As a huge fan of both Spring and Autumnwatch on BBC television, I have been inspired to keep a diary of the wildlife I see around me as I go out and about in our lovely county of Essex.

There is so much to see and enjoy if you really look around you.

There is no need to travel far, it is in our gardens, the local park or woodland, countless nature reserves across Essex and our coast and river estuaries.

Week 1

Sunday, 4 October

Trees are laden with fruit as they try desperately to reproduce after another long dry spell.

Elderberries
The elder has small white flowers in spring and black fruits in autumn

There are holly trees glowing red with berries, oaks laden with acorns, elder dripping with glossy black fruits, conkers littering the ground under the struggling horse chestnuts, and there are still blackberries in the hedgerows along with some late flowers.

The continued dry weather is badly affecting those mammals that feed mainly on worms or slugs.

Badgers are being a real nuisance in many gardens and allotments as they are drawn in by the smell of damp earth as we try our best to keep our plants going by watering them.

I visited a hedgehog rescue centre where they are inundated with underweight hogs which have been unable to find enough of those same staple items to gain enough weight to hibernate.

Tuesday, 6 October

At last some rain today which was very welcome. Spent the morning at the RSPB's Stour Estuary Reserve at Wrabness.

The autumn colours are really starting to show now and the leaves were tumbling from the trees as I enjoyed peeling and eating sweet chestnuts while I wandered along in the rain with my binoculars.

Following the rain I spent a fairly sunny afternoon in my garden tidying up.

Bee on a plant
Bees gathering nectar from the late flowering plants

Everywhere I went it seemed a little wren was following me and tick-ticking me off loudly as I interfered with her domain.

I have hardly seen a wren in months, but she is probably now finding lots of spiders which are plentiful in the autumn.

There were dozens of bees buzzing over late flowering plants which was good to see, and even a couple of dragonflies flitting about enjoying the sun with me.

Thursday, 8 October

The River Blackwater runs through my garden and it looked spectacular early this morning when I woke up with the sun streaming in the windows.

The mist was rising from the water and the reflections were beautiful.

The birds seemed to be enjoying the sunny day weather too as they were singing their heads off, and small copper butterflies danced amongst the flowers.

Moorhen
Moorhens have red beaks and white tail which flicks as they walk

The moorhens seem finally to have given up the late nest they have been building amongst the reeds in the river - just as well because any young would not survive this late in the year.

They have failed to breed at all this year probably due to the mink that hunt up and down the river.

We used to regularly see water voles and little grebes but have not for some years now, again due to the mink.




SEE ALSO
Winter homes wanted for hedgehogs
07 Oct 09 |  Nature & Outdoors

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