Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 8 October 1915

Dandelion and hawkweed “clocks,” downy grey knobs, have replaced the yellow, many-rayed flowers that spotted with colour badly weeded fields and laneside wastes; they stand ripe for the wind to waft them far and wide. By the river the long pods of the great willow-herbs have coiled back like springs, and the feathery awns, a grey untidy litter, replace the handsome purple blossoms. Over the thorn hedge, which barely shows signs of autumn change, the cleavers crawled, but now, covered with numerous prickly seedpods, it clings in death, brown and withered; below it the docks in fruit, brown as coffee, and the stiff-stemmed hard-heads stand stark amidst the changing grass.

It is not only garden plants that feel the early frosts. Few birds are singing. In the morning an occasional song thrush tries a catch or two, and in the woods to-day the ringdoves were almost as persistent as in spring, but the only birds which can really be claimed to be in good voice are the robin and starling. The former is everywhere – in the woods and lanes as well as near the houses – and the starling, though at the present time eminently sociable, feeding and roosting with his kind, often leaves them for a spell to sing in the orchard trees, which he never seems to forget. The pear tree was his perch when he whistled amorous vernal serenades; he perched there but was too busy to sing when the fruit ripened, and still he comes to whistle and chatter, though the crop – all that he and his companions left – is gathered.

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Source: Guardian Environment