Autumn’s arrival is late – but just as beautiful as ever in our woodlands
Nature lovers are in their element at the turning of the seasons, with so many new things to spot. The Woodland Trust records the changes
THE first redwings have soared into the UK, bringing a clear message it’s autumn – but it’s late.
Temperatures are still hitting 20 degrees for a lot of us but the first sighting of redwings to UK shores brings a clear message autumn is here.
An eagle-eyed Woodland Trust nature recorder spotted the first sight of this distinctive bird flying into our country from the east.
The birds generally nest in Siberia and Scandinavia but take a perilous 500-mile journey to the UK each autumn to seek refuge here from freezing conditions further afield.
The redwings’ arrival is not the only sign that autumn is here, however some signs point to the fact it may be late, explains Martha Boalch, a Citizen Science Officer at the Woodland Trust.
She said: “While the arrival of the redwing (first sighting in Yorkshire) is a clear marker for autumn there are other seasonal changes being recorded too.
“One of the first signs of autumn – the conkers are now ripening and falling across the UK and leaves are changing colour and falling off trees.
“We have also had some recordings of ivy flowering which is very important as it is the final nectar source of the year for insects before they hibernate for winter.
“All these events seem to be happening much later though, most likely because of the heat wave and above average temperatures.”
The first ripening of conkers, which generally occurs in the south east of England, was around six weeks later than usual – thought to be due to a slow-down in trees photosynthesizing due to drought conditions. Meanwhile, only six recordings of full autumn tint so far have been recorded on the leaves of the horse chestnut – traditionally one of the first trees to show the seasonal changes. The Woodand Trust had 38 recordings this time last year.
There have been only 51 leaf falls recorded so far this year, compared to 161 last year – and just half the number of records of ivy flowering.
Miss Boalch said although all indications point to autumn being late it doesn’t mean people won’t see autumn in its full glory.
She added: “Although all indications point to the heat wave slowing the onset of autumn, as temperatures get chillier the full beauty of autumn should be on display – just a few weeks late!
“It’s very important though that people do tell us about what they see happening with local flora and fauna. By recording seasonal changes with our Nature’s Calendar project, we can assess how nature is coping with our rapidly changing cli- mate – and inform wider studies.”
Through its Nature’s Calendar project the Woodland Trust relies on the public recording signs of nature. Record nature here: https:// naturescalendar.woodlandtrust.org. uk/
The data helps the charity understand how nature is affected by weather and climate change.
Redwings are the smallest true thrush. They have a brown head with a pale stripe above and below the eye and brown back and wings with a pale mottled front with distinctive red patches.
During migration they face a perilous journey across the North Sea, completing the 500 mile journey in one go.
They’re very social and can form large flocks of up to 200. They have a distinctive “tseep” sound.
During summer they forage on earthworms and moths in the ground but feast on fruits when they arrive in the UK. If very cold they can take shelter in people’s gardens.
Autumn is a time to visit woodland, to see the changing colours and the wildlife that thrives on the bounty at this time of the year.
Great woods to visit this autumn in the south west include Fingle Woods in Devon, which boasts an Iron Age hillfort. There are also newly revealed paths in the wood, which is is being transformed back to its former glory. Fingle Woods are home to 36 breeding bird species that visitors can see or hear. And the river supports otters and salmon.
Further east Beacon Hill Woods, Shepton Mallet, Somerset offers visitors steep climbs and stunning autumn scenery, a very popular place to visit for both locals and tourists. A copse of large old beech trees, visible for miles, form a distinctive crown on its ridge. The wood includes features dating back to Neolithic, Bronze Age and Roman periods
Credenhill Park Woods, Credenhill, Herefordshire: As you walk along the tranquil paths amongst the trees of Credenhill Park Wood, you can glimpse rare small leaved limes and early purple orchids. The Iron Age hill fort that is an integral part of the site is one of the largest hill forts in England and is thought to have been an Iron Age tribal capital. The walk to the top is well worth it, discovering nature within the woods along the way. At the top you will see views across to Wales. Soak up the autumnal landscape and let your imagination take you back to a time gone by.
Bishop’s Knoll, Stoke Bishop, Bristol: Get lost at Bishops Knoll. Stroll around the 19th century hidden woodland and garden and uncover secrets from its grand past. Once a medieval deer park and later the grounds of a 19th century stately home, Bishops Knoll is a myriad of paths, terraces and exotic and ancient trees.
Find the arboretum as it is slowly uncovered and while away the hours wandering around this open-air time capsule.
The first redwings of the autumn have arrived – but most harbingers of the changing seasons are late this year