Large Tiger Hoverfly (Helophilus trivittatus),  photographed on 17 September 2019.
Large Tiger Hoverfly (Helophilus trivittatus),  17 September 2019. New Garden record. Photo Ken Dobson.

September 2019, perhaps predictably, followed the pattern of previous months this summer. Once again it was both sunnier (141.4 hours, 129% of average) and wetter (79.4 mm, 161% of average) than an average Edinburgh September, and once again there was a (brief) warm spell in the third week of the month, when the temperature peaked at 21.1°C on 21st. The sun shone on 26 days out of the 30, but more than 1 mm of rain fell on only ten days. Almost half the month’s total rainfall fell on just two days, 21 mm on 22nd and about 14 mm on 8th.

There were two new additions to the Garden’s wildlife list during September, a hoverfly and a crane-fly relative. A second hoverfly that had been accidentally omitted from the list was finally added. These three additional records bring the total Garden list up to 1,126.

Birds: Thirty-four bird species were recorded at RBGE during September 2019. As expected there were no further records of Swifts but Swallow was recorded twice (5th and 10th). Autumn’s arrival was heralded by skeins of Pink-footed Geese flying south over parts of Edinburgh from the second week onwards, although none were recorded actually over-flying the Garden, as is the case in most years. Once again there was a single Blackcap record (9th) but no Chiffchaffs were reported. Collared Dove was present all month and, as last month, Stock Dove was heard calling once (5th). There were four sightings of Sparrowhawk within the Garden, while a Buzzard over-flew on 16th. In contrast to last month when there were no records, Black-headed Gull was present on thirteen dates. Kingfisher was reported on six dates while at least one Grey Heron was present almost every day. A Grey Wagtail frequented the temporarily dried-up stream bed near the Pond towards the month’s end (26th and 28th). Nuthatches were seen or heard on nine occasions, all in the second half of the month (15th onwards). Unusually, Goldfinch was only recorded once (20th) and, even more strangely, Greenfinch was not recorded at all. The complete list of 34 species recorded during September 2019 was: Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kingfisher, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Nuthatch, Robin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Swallow, Tree Creeper, Wood Pigeon, Wren.

Mammals and amphibians: Fox was reported twice (4th and 17th), while Badger activity was also noted on two occasions. Common Frog was also seen twice (23rd and 28th) and Palmate Newt once, on 28th.

Phantom cranefly Ptychoptera albimana, photographed on 28 September 2019.
Phantom cranefly (Ptychoptera albimana), 28 September 2019. New Garden record. Photo Ken Dobson.

Insects and other invertebrates: Seven butterfly species were recorded during September. The most frequently seen were Speckled Wood (11 dates), Red Admiral (10 dates) and Painted Lady (seven dates). Small White was seen on six occasions, Comma on four dates, Large White also on four days but Peacock only once (16th). An as yet unidentified caddisfly species was photographed on 19th but there were no notable moth records. There were three sightings of Tree Bumblebee, while Buff-tailed Bumblebee and Common Carder Bee, as well as Honey Bee and Common Wasp, were seen throughout the month. Large Red-tailed Bumblebee was not seen, however, and no further records of Wool Carder Bees were made. The only dragonfly records in September were three of Common Darter on 19th, 21st and 23rd. Seven hoverfly species were recorded in September, including one new Garden record, of Large Tiger Hoverfly (Helophilus trivittatus) on 17th. Its close relative the Footballer (Striped) Hoverfly (H. pendulus) was seen on 23rd and 25th, while Dead Head Hoverfly was recorded on 13th and 26th. Banded Hoverflies, and both Common and Tapered Dronefly, were also frequently seen but Marmalade Hoverfly was only reported three times (2nd, 3rd, 19th). Also, the hoverfly species Xylota segnis was finally added to the full Garden wildlife list after having been accidentally omitted from it, even though it has been seen most years since 2010, including in May of this year. A wasp-like ‘phantom crane-fly’ species, Ptychoptera albimana, was a new Garden record for the month (28th), while the common cranefly species Tipula paludosa was seen on 19th and an unidentifiable moth fly (Psychodidae sp.) on 5th. Common Flower Bug on 3rd and 13th was the only hemipteran noted. Another Cream-streaked Ladybird was recorded – rescued from the East Gate Lodge toilets on 23rd – while there were two sightings of  Pine Ladybird (17th and 23rd). Other beetles included no fewer than six records of Rosemary Beetle (between 7th and 26th)  and three of Devil’s Coach Horse (4th, 9th and 11th). Lastly, there was a single sighting of Garden Snail (26th) and one of another as yet unidentified snail on a flower-head on 19th.

Cream-streaked Ladybird (Harmonia quadripunctata), photographed on 23 September 2019.
Cream-streaked Ladybird (Harmonia quadripunctata), 23 September 2019. Third Garden record (first and second in May and July 2019). Photo Ken Dobson.