We all love autumn don’t we? It’s that special time of year when the weather begins to get discernibly cooler and the nights noticeably longer.
Autumn heralds the transition into the cold, dark and desolate winter months, and the natural world puts on a final flurry of amazing activity before slowing down until the warmer sunshine of spring returns.
And the UK is no exception, boasting some world-class wildlife spectacles.
So if you're not too hot on autumn, here are ten fantastic reasons why you should be.
After the warmth of summer and dampness of autumn there is an explosion of mushrooms and toadstools happening right across the country, from woodland floors to decaying logs and meadows. What we see on our fungal forays are the fruiting bodies preparing to release their spores that give rise to the next generation of ecological recyclers.
Fungi are quite different to both plants and animals and have their own kingdom. Here in the UK there could be as many as 15,000 species, with a great diversity in size, colour and shape. However, many of these are extremely poisonous and should only be identified with a reliable guide, or better still, an expert guided walk which will help you get the most from this seasonal highlight. Find a fungal foray with the Wildlife Trusts.
One of the perks of the cooling temperatures, longer nights and increased moisture in the air is a walk in the countryside on a misty autumnal morning. The UK has some stunning fields, parks and open spaces just ripe for an early morning excursion. So there’s no excuse for not heading out before the sun has had time to burn off all the lovely mist! Visit one of the UK’s 15 National Parks early one morning – your early rise will be worth it.
The pulsating clouds of hundreds of thousands of starlings all swirling and turning in jaw-dropping unison can only be described as an ‘awesome wildlife spectacle’. These murmurations happen during autumn and winter over fields, woodlands and reedbeds as they seek out their communal roosting site for the night and so are best viewed just before dusk.
Why do they put on this magnificent display? It’s certainly not just for our delight; it’s thought that starlings gather together for protection from predators, as it is harder to pick out individuals from within an amorphous, hypnotising cloud. They may also congregate to keep warm at night and pass information about good feeding sites. There are great places for spectacular views throughout the country, including Brighton Pier of all places. Find out where to experience a starling murmuration near you with the RSPB.