September 2000

Friday 1st September – Barnsley Canal – The area has been soaked by rain overnight. Willow Tits call from the allotment boundary hedge. A pair fly into a dead Elder and search for insects. A clump of Fleabane, yellow flowers shining in the morning sun, graces a scrubby patch of path. A few Puffballs have popped up on the coal shard filled soil. A Kingfisher flies past high over canal.

Saturday 2nd September – Coxes Mill – A large mill, now converted into luxury flats, in Addlestone, Surrey. The mill pond is huge. Coot, Mallard and a Great Crested Grebe enjoy the afternoon sun. The River Wey runs alongside with a busy lock as holiday canal boats travel through. Young people in canoes paddle below the mill weir, one with a spaniel sitting happily on the bows.

Sunday 3rd September – The River Wey and Godalming Navigation – A cool, bright September morning. Coxes Mill is now deserted and quiet. This is an old Navigation, parts started in 1618 by Sir Richard Weston of Sutton Place. It was made fully navigable by 1653 with 15½ miles of river and man made cuts, falling 68 feet through 12 locks. Barges carried corn, flour, timber, coal, sugar and many other loads between London and Guildford. A marshy area contains pollarded Willows. Dill the Dog chases a Moorhen and falls in the canal. I have to help her out as the reinforced bank is vertical and too high for her. A noisy flock of Rose-necked Parakeets gives me a lifer bird. They are naturalised escapees and admitted to the British list. Stalks of vermilion berries of Wild Arum (Cuckoo Pints) brighten shady patches. The value of some of the properties whose gardens end on the opposite bank does not bear reckoning. At the Thames Lock, the Navigation swings round by the River Thames. A Painted Lady butterfly flits strongly around the lock garden.

Wednesday 6th September – Barnsley Canal – A Wren whirrs from rushes to the allotment hedge. A Chiffchaff mnemonically calls. A shiny Blackbird gorges on ripe Elderberries. House Martins fly high overhead. Great and Rosebay Willowherbs are coming to an end, but Himalayan Balsam is in full bloom. Dark clouds roll over, but Emley Moor television mast glints in the distance.

Wednesday 13th September – Barnsley Canal – Quiet time on the canal. Most flowers have gone to seed, although the rough meadow on Willowbank has plenty of Field Scabious. Robins tick, Willow Tits wheeze and the occasional Blackbird sings. Elderberries hang in heavy shiny black clusters. Hips and Haws have ripened to rich reds. The canal is green with weed. At the Barugh end of the canal it is very quiet. A sheep bleats and a Magpie rasps, otherwise nothing but the distant drone of motorway traffic. Up the hill towards Greenfoot Lane. Inkcaps rise from horse manure, some pristine white, others autodigesting into black liquid. Dung Mottle-gills are also common, but only a single Cep is found. Mistle Thrushes rasp as they fly low across the meadow.

Thursday 14th September – Barnsley Canal – A Brown Hawker patrols the reed bed at the Smithies Lane end of the canal. A Dunnock watches from fence wire. Moorhens and Dabchicks feed in the pools of clear water between the weed cover. Wood Pigeons hoot. After seeing few dragonflies all summer another species, a Ruddy Darter hunts over the canal. There is a number of shallow, reedy pools near the loop. Dill the Dog decides to examine them thoroughly and emerges sodden and soiled. A Great Spotted Woodpecker chips as it flies along the valley.

Broomhill – There are good numbers of Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and Mallard on the flash. Three Ruff and a Snipe feed on the mud. A fair number of Stock Doves are on the edge of the water.

Old Moor – Flocks of thirty Golden Plover arrow overhead. Many more Goldies are on the mud with large numbers of Lapwings. Nine Greylags sail onto one of the large waters. Wigeon numbers are increasing all the time as the winter flocks build up. Several Dabchicks are present on many of the pools. Greenshank strut across the mud. Swirls of Whirligig Beetles spin on a drainage ditch where Common Water Plaintains are in flower. Black-tailed Godwits stand high above the Lapwings as they probe the mud. At least one eclipsed Garganey feeds in the shallow water. Many Teal sieve the soft watery mud. Other waders include Ruff, two Green Sandpipers, Dunlin and three Spotted Redshanks. Young Great Crested Grebes do not yet have the majesty of the adults. A yellow Fringed Water-lily is flowering in a ditch whilst White Water-lilies are in glorious display on a pond. As dusk falls dozens of Swallows fly overhead.

Saturday 16th September – Grange Gate – The moist, humid weather is perfect for fungi. Along the abandoned railway line are Inkcaps, their brown caps edged by black as they autodigest, the white spotted scarlet caps of Fly Agaric (which was what made the Viking Berserkers berserk), and various milk caps. Up on the sandy hillside various boletus are growing, both Brown and Orange Birch Boletus, Slippery Jacks and a single Penny Bun (Cep). There are also some amanita, either Blushers or Panther Caps – the former is edible but the latter is deadly, so no risking it! An Evening Primrose is still in bloom.

Sunday 17th September – Silkstone Fall – The Penny Bun site is devoid of boletus, but there are many Puffballs. Jays are noisy in the tree tops. On the slag heap there are again very few boletus and only a few Fly Agaric. This is odd, as it seems perfect conditions for them. Blue, Great and Willow Tits call in the wood.

Sunday 24th September – Huddersfield Broad Canal – The canal has too many green patches and too much rubbish in it. Some excavation has been going on in the soil by the tow path, but we have no idea why. Suddenly, the light spotting of rain turns to a downpour. We shelter under the arches of a beautiful metallic grey brick railway bridge. The raindrops ripple the water either side of the bridge leaving a calm strip in the centre.

Monday 25th September – Sharrow Vale – A Chiffchaff is calling from the Sharrow Cemetery on a bright warm autumn morning.

Saturday 30th September – Grange Gate – There are even more toadstools and mushrooms present now. The grass border by the path is scattered with Milk Caps. Up on the steep sandy hillside large white-spotted red-capped Fly Agaric are easily seen. There are many huge boletus under the Oak and Birch scrub but they are all heavily wormed. I find just a couple of Birch Boletus, a Shaggy Inkcap and a few Fairy Ring Champignon for dinner. A Kestrel hovers over the pasture. Magpies squabble in the Hawthorns and Wood Pigeons soar out across the Dearne valley from the woods high above.