September was a quiet month. The female tufted duck was still on the river on September 25th, but still no sign of her offspring, so all of them have probably been predated. Such outcomes seem sad, but nature is remarkably prodigal and, until humans upset the balance, animal populations could be relied upon to survive from year to year, and to overcome short-term losses.

A single meadow pipit flew over on the 25th, a sign that winter is approaching. Unfortunately, numbers have been declining in recent years, another possible example of the impact of human activity. In this case the most likely cause is the warming climate. Conditions in the birds’ more northerly breeding grounds are less harsh now, enabling more birds to stay put or migrate shorter distances in the autumn. Either way, the result is fewer birds turning up in the soft south.