Natural colour is often cited as one of the wonders of autumn and the month of October is as colourful as they come, with Mother Nature delivering a rich palette of reds, orange, browns and yellows that can brighten the greyest of days. Autumn might be short but it certainly packs a punch as our trees and hedgerows transform before our eyes with tired, washed out greens making way for vibrant shades.
As well as punctuating the often grey days, these warm colours provide a contrast to the noticeably cooler mornings. The sun is still able to deliver relatively warm days once it breaks through, but after chilly nights there can be mist and fog, especially over rivers and wetlands, adding a special sense of atmosphere to early morning walks. Dewdrops can often be seen sparkling like jewels amidst the delicate framework of spiders’ webs.
Whilst out and about in the countryside there is plenty to see and enjoy. Weird and wonderful fungi can be seen on the ground and sprouting from the trunks of dead and decaying trees, especially silver birch trees. Flocks of tits can be seen feasting on seeds and berries along hedgerows whilst smaller birds such as goldfinches will strip the seed heads of flowers such as teasel. In areas where there is an abundance of fallen apples look out for wasps and red admiral butterflies sipping juices from the overripe fruits.
Whilst important year-round, garden bird tables will become increasingly relied upon if the temperatures start to plummet and as natural food supplies start to become thin on the ground; so do remember to keep your table and any feeders topped up. If you have hedgehogs in the area, it is worth putting out food such as a meat based cat or dog food to help provide them with extra calories to boost their chances of putting on enough weight to see them through the challenge of hibernation.
Rather than giving your lawn a final close cut of the season consider letting at least part of your lawn grow a little longer. This will provide more shelter and egg laying opportunities for a wider range of insects which in turn provides feeding opportunities for birds and other wildlife. By also avoiding chemical weed and moss killers you can create a year-round feeding station for birds such as blackbirds and thrushes which will relish the prospect of hunting for worms and leatherjackets.
MAKE A WILDLIFE POND
October is also a great time to think about creating a wildlife pond. A pond constructed now will have plenty of time to settle and come next spring should already be teaming with wildlife. For details of how to create a pond and other improvements you can make to your garden to help wildlife visit www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/actions/how-build-pond.
Image © John Smith