Even though the days are getting shorter, and the nights longer, you can still see stunning sunsets and brighter stars in the dark skies. On cold mornings you’ll wake up to dewy mists in the fields until the weaker sun burns them off – this is a wonderful time of year!
Murmurations of starlings – an autumnal highlight
Flocks of migrating birds will be on the move, some coming here to avoid extreme colder climates, others leaving for much warmer climates.
About 17 million birds use the UK for migration, some feeding as they fly over. All along the coast, skeins of migratory geese will be arriving from Arctic breeding grounds to spend winter with us.
Flocks of jackdaws, rooks and carrion crows come together and fly to woodland roosts to spend the darkening evenings. Parties of long tailed tits, huge flocks of waders feeding on coastal estuaries and murmurations of starlings, one of the great highlights of autumn, can be seen in our skies.
Deer rutting – one of nature’s greatest spectacles
This is a very special time of year for our largest native land animal, the red deer, and a great time for you to visit a local deer park.
The stags and bucks grow threatening antlers and fight rival males to attract a harem of females. The victorious, though normally calm and quiet, stag can end up with 10-20 females all to himself!
At this time of year you can also hear the roaring of the red deer at night and the barking of the smaller muntjac and roe deer in the distance.
Five great places to see rutting deer are:
Cairngorms National Park – take a guided tour into the Braes of Glenlivet to watch rutting stags.
Exmoor National Park – park rangers and other experts guide walks to seek out the stags.
Foulshaw Moss, Cumbria – where you can see stags rut out in the middle of this wonderful wetland area.
Richmond Park – to observe the stags in lovely open woodland.
RSPB Minsmere, Suffolk – join a guided tour and see the rut on the naturally beautiful heath.
Some other things to see and do:
Look out for spiders’ webs outlined with dew in hedgerows, meadows, house windows and across doorways. If you time it right and look carefully you may even see a spider actually making its amazing web.
This is the time to pick the last of the blackberries and persuade someone to bake you a homemade pie. Look out as well for wildlife competing for the last of the hedgerow harvest, such as birds and small rodents.
Now is a great time to clean out any nest boxes or bird feeders and rinse well with very hot water. Get rid of the old nests to make room for new ones and to remove the risk of parasites overwintering in the box.
If you have room in your garden, and some old pieces of wood, logs and twigs, make a woodpile in a shady quiet area. This will be a safe and warm haven for insects, toads and hedgehogs to spend winter plus your logs will sprout fungi which recycle the wood and turn it back into soil!