Autumn in the garden presents an opportunity to learn all about nature, hibernation and different kinds of birds.
As well as being a beautiful time of year, autumn is a time when animals stock up on food and make their nests for the winter. Although many birds depart for warmer climates, many come to feed in the garden. It can be a nice activity to bird watch with the kids, documenting and drawing the different birds that come to eat wild berries or food you put out for them week by week. Try alternating food you put out so children can learn the different types of food birds like to eat.
This activity could even be turned into a project book documenting the change in bird and wildlife month by month. A mini observatory could be set up from the shed, spying out of the window, making it into an exciting adventure!
In September look out for butterflies, Swallows and Warblers. Swallows have pointy wings and long tails, males are dark blue with a creamy breast and females are dull or pale grey. Their song is like a warble. Warblers are really small and greenish-brown in colour with dark brown legs with lovely, melodic song.
Jays, Starlings, Blackbirds and Thrushes come looking for berries, seeds and insects in October so if you have a part of your garden that is a bit wilder that may attract more wildlife. Starlings and Blackbirds look alike but you can tell them apart as Starlings are greedy, noisy birds who try to steal all the food. Blackbirds have a distinctive yellow eye ring and bright bill. The females are more of a reddish-brown colour.
More Thrushes and Blackbirds come in November as well as Greenfinches, Chaffinches and Sparrows. Chaffinches are easily identified by their bright colours. The have a head and nape, a white belly and a green rump, once you know birdsong the chaffinches is instantly recognisable as it is so cheerful and loud. November is also a time to look out for hedgehogs! They look for blackberries and elderberries so you know what to grow if you want to attract one!
Squirrels will also make regular visits to your garden. Make your bird feeders squirrel proof or they might eat all the food!
Other wildlife that might be a bit harder to see but you could go on hunts for include: badgers, foxes, moles, hedgehogs, house mouse, bats, rabbits, frogs, newts toads, worms and lots of slugs. Badgers, foxes and bats are nocturnal so the chances of seeing them are slightly less. Some think badgers are pests as they can be dangerous or destroy your garden but a child can learn a lot from observing a badger if one wanders into your garden.
Children can also learn to love and respect wildlife in the autumn. Not only observing the different life that comes into the garden. They can also be your helpers in preparing the garden for the next spring, trimming the borders, dead-heading the plants and planting bulbs for next year. Digging and planting provides wonderful exercise for the kids as well as tiring them out! Autumn provides endless fun and educational activities for the children.