Autumn is the season that brings fallen leaves, gale force winds and rainstorms often causing raging rivers to flood.

But shorter days contribute to one of the most interesting spells of the year for wildlife. With less time to feed, it is usually easier to see birds, insects and animals as they prepare for the life-threatening onset of winter.

Late September sunshine attracted a dragonfly to my garden. It flew back and forth at such a dizzying, zig-zag pace I had no hope of identifying it – until it landed on a bush to sunbathe. I even had time to fetch my Britain’s Dragonflies guide by Dave

Wild Things: Witnessing the end of a 'Painted Lady year'

Smallshire and Andy Swash which confirmed this black and blue beauty as a male Migrant Hawker.

They were once migrants to the south of England but are now well established residents likely to be found around lakes, ponds, gravel pits and of course gardens. They are most common in autumn and may be seen at least until the end of October. Check gardens and parks.

Autumn also brings huge changes in our bird population. We say goodbye to Africa-bound summer visitors like Swallows, House Martins, flycatchers and Nightingales and prepare to welcome shrikes, Redwings, Fieldfares and perhaps Waxwings.

Wild Things: Urgent action needed to save our red squirrels

I’d given up hope of seeing House Martins when from my window I spotted a lone bird battling strong wind on September 27. Five days later a Swallow flew past the same window. I don’t expect to see any more until they return in April.

Grey Herons are around all year but become bolder from autumn onwards. One alighted on my neighbour’s roof recently and spent half an hour staring into a garden pond. No easy pickings this time though as the pond has been netted to protect resident fish. Herons will eat almost anything but love eels. At a Kent estuary I watched a Heron catch a huge eel then battle for 15 minutes to dispatch it. The slimy eel wriggled out of the heron’s grasp several times before being partly swallowed. The heron flew off with at least four inches of the eel protruding from its bill and a large bulge in its neck !