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SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER IN CUMBRIA

As September arrives birds in the garden are looking spick and span after moulting; Coal Tits for example have brilliant white cheeks and Robins look very dapper in their brilliant red waistcoats!

Early September is the peak time for migrating waders and it is worth looking out for Greenshank, Whimbrel, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, the Sandpipers and Little Stint. This month large flocks of Lapwing, Golden, Grey and Ringed Plover build up and can usually be found around the coastal sites. Merlin return from the fells to the coast during September and can be seen at South Walney and the Inner Solway, especially at high tide when roosts of Redshank attract this species along with Peregrine and Sparrowhawk. From late September, Pink-footed geese fly over the coastal corridor on the way to south Lancashire. Brent Geese return to the Rampside/Walney area in early October and Whooper Swans are seen off Rockcliffe Marsh and flying over the south of the county. Also from October onwards Hen Harriers return in small numbers to wintering quarters on the Solway and West Cumbrian Fells. Scaup are often found in Morecambe Bay (off Baycliffe, for example) and in the Solway, which is one of the main wintering areas. Coastal and Moorland sites hold Short-eared Owl from October onwards. Also from late October Purple Sandpiper return to their usual haunts off mid and north Walney and at Workington.

If the weather remains good several species of butterfly may still be found during September and into October. Red Admiral numbers are usuall good as a southwards movement begins. Speckled Wood has a late brood and specimens are increasingly found through into October. Even Comma and Painted Lady may be found in this month, especially after an Indian summer. Several species of dragonfly continue to fly at this time of year, notably Black Darter and Migrant Hawker. The latter is a relatively new arrival in the county and is worth looking out for.

The plant season has drawn to a close but one species worth looking out for in early September is Guelder Rose. Early in the month the wonderful bright red and translucent berries fill the shrub in many damp hedgerows, while later in the month the leaves turn brilliant shades of yellow, red and purple. One species that often flowers well into September is the Viper's Bugloss. It is a rather scarce coastal plant in the county of shingle habitat and dry sandy places. It does particularly well on South Walney but also occurs at Eskmeals, Maryport and a few inland sites.