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The Natural World in Autumn

Thursday, 15th September 2016

There’s no denying it – autumn is on its way and as it gets closer, big changes start to get under way in the natural world.
From September onwards a change in animal behaviour can be seen. The drop in temperature triggers bird migration so look out for birds like Swallows leaving and Fieldfares arriving.

Take a walk in your local park or wood and you may see a squirrel storing up and burying acorns – caching them for later - Ladybirds and butterflies may come inside to seek a warm place to sleep through the cold winter months.
 
Squirrel

Many species hibernate, so at this time of year bats and hedgehogs gorge on insects and fruit to build up their body fat in readiness for hibernation.

It can be a busy time of year for many animals though. Bats and deer all seek mates at this time of year. Did you know that bats serenade potential mates? It is potentially possible to hear this if you have a bat detector as these convert their ultrasound signals to audible (to humans) signals.

As sunlight weakens, then the leaves on trees begin to change colour and drop, although the timing of this can vary due to species and location.
 
Trees in Autumn

Plants look to the future in autumn and disperse their seeds in all manner of different ways, so they can grow and spread in the spring. Sycamore ‘helicopters’ travel by air - while acorns and beech nuts are usually spread by, amongst others, squirrels and Jays, who store them for winter feeding.
 
Jay

Many plants use fruit as a way of spreading their seeds. Blackberries are eaten by everything from birds, like blackbirds and fieldfares, to foxes and wasps.

Through the combination of late summer warmth and autumnal dampness there is usually a surge in mushrooms that starts in September every year. Mushrooms are the fruiting part of fungi and appear in the autumn to spread their spores. Beware that some species of mushroom are fatally poisonous and when out looking for mushrooms a reliable guide should be used.

It’s a great time of year to get out and about and enjoy nature’s plants and animals putting on their final show before the colder months arrive.
 

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