Out Now - Wildlife and Places to See in September!
Here you can find out about the wildlife you might see in Wiltshire and Swindon at the moment. Visit this month's featured site to see a wealth of wildlife, take a look at our identification guide to find out about a group you are most likely to see and don’t forget to send us your records!
Three to Spot
Parasol mushroom - Macrolepiota procera This large fungus is fairly common and was named Parasol Mushroom as it resembles a lady’s parasol. It can be found on well drained soils, either singly or in groups and fairy rings (these are naturally occurring rings or arcs of mushrooms) mainly in grasslands and pastures and sometimes in woodlands from July to October. The Parasol Mushroom can reach a large size reaching a height of 25cm and the cap can reach 20cm. The cap is egg shaped when immature, once mature it is circular shaped and flat with a little bump in the centre.
Water Mint - Mentha aquatica As its name suggests, this native perennial herb grows in marginal vegetation in streams, rivers, pools, ditches and canals, as well as wet meadows, marshes, fens and wet woodland clearings. Where it grows in the water itself it will lift its stems above the surface. The stems are often purple. It has a rounded flower head held at the top of the stem with lots of very small tubular shaped flowers clustered closely together; the flowers range in colour from light pink to lilac and are in bloom from June to October.
Meadow Saffron - Colchicum autumnale Despite being no relation to the true crocus the flowers of Meadow Saffron are deceptively similar, the primary difference being the presence of six stamens (the pollen-producing reproductive organ of a flower) to the true crocus’s three. Meadow Saffron flowers are out in September, and a pale reddish-purple and despite the name can also be found growing in woodland rides and clearings. In Wiltshire the distribution of Meadow Saffron is now almost entirely restricted to ancient and older woodlands usually on calcareous soils, where it may occur in large numbers. While in neighbouring counties it remains predominately a plant of meadows this is no longer the case in Wiltshire, often having been dug up at these sites because of its poisonous nature.
This Month's Must See
Autumn Lady’s-tresses -August and September are the best time to be on the lookout for Autumn Lady’s-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis), when their delicate flowers are on display. However this can be a difficult species to find, its small size and pale colouration can make it tricky to spot and it is often overlooked due to the fast development of the flowering spikes and the short flowering period that occurs in hot weather.
A late flowering species of orchid, its apt scientific name describes the single tight spiral of small white flowers that emerges around an almost leafless flowering stem. Favouring the calcareous grassland that covers much of Wiltshire, their small size, reaching a maximum of 20cm, means they require short, well-grazed grassland to survive.
September – Wild Fruits Here are some of Wiltshire’s familiar, and less familiar, wild fruits to look out for. Many of the fruits are vividly coloured such as the spindle, rosehip and rowan, but whatever the colour they are irresistible to our wildlife. Find out about identifying wild fruits you see this month with our ID guide
Lower Moor Farm Nature Reserve - Early autumn onwards is the time to see one of the UK’s greatest natural spectacles: birds gathering in vast numbers. At Lower Moor Farm great flocks of birds, in particular waterfowl, arrive in autumn to spend the winter. Some are resident birds, but the numbers increase in autumn and winter as migrants arrive such as Tufted Ducks, Goosander, Gadwall.