Autumn colours at the end of October in Serpentine Wood at Calke Abbey. Credit Susan Guy.
Matthew Oates, nature and wildlife specialist, looks back on the effects of a mild autumn on our wildlife:
Autumn has been incredibly mild, to date. The south has had a single light frost, a windscreen affair on October 25th. It has also been dry, everywhere – with a drought in Northern Ireland – until the autumn rains arrived, perhaps with a vengeance, after the warmest November day on record (the 1st).
In consequence, many summer plants are flowering in garden and countryside. Even tender summer annuals, such as Nasturtiums, are persisting. In the wild some high summer plants have sprung back into bloom, notably the brambles. Also, many of spring’s flowers are evident, again in both garden and countryside – especially Primrose, violets, Wild Strawberry and, most noticeably, the garden Viburnums.
Insects have lingered long into the autumn. Speckled Wood butterflies made it into November in numbers over much of southern Britain, and dragonflies, moths and crickets and grasshoppers have also persisted well. This year it will be the rains, rather than the frosts, that kill them off.
The leaves came off on time, with the exception of the Ash which dropped somewhat early in many districts. The maples flamed deep red this year.
Now, Fieldfare and Redwing seem unusually numerous, perhaps because poor weather in Scandinavia and Russia has pushed them deep into their wintering grounds.
It seems likely that the first part of the winter, at least, will be mild and wet, and perhaps stormy.