Autumn review

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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.

Ground-breaking mapping project reveals 50 years of land use change along the coast

  • Original survey carried out in 1965 to highlight the impact of development on our coastline has been updated to reveal land use changes
  • 94% of coastline considered to be ‘pristine’ 50 years ago is now protected through the National Trust or through the planning system
  • While three quarters (74%) of the coast remains undeveloped, urban/built-up areas have increased by 42% (17,557 hectares), adding the equivalent of a city the size of Manchester to our coastline
Sunset over Wembury Point, near Plymouth, Devon.

Sunset over Wembury Point, near Plymouth, Devon. Credit National Trust

One of the biggest mapping projects of the 20th century has been repeated fifty years on by the National Trust to understand how the way that land is used along the coast has changed since 1965.

The report, released today by the conservation charity, finds that overall the modern planning system has worked with development contained and directed to the most suitable locations. However, it also warns against complacency and highlights the need, too, for a marine planning system that effectively manages the competing priorities at the coast.

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New nature reports: Nature needs us and we need nature

An ambitious long-term plan is needed to save nature as the Government considers its spending priorities.

We need a plan to help nature recover and everyone needs to play their part

We need a plan to help nature recover and everyone needs to play their part

That is the clear message from the Response for Nature reports published today by a coalition of leading conservation organisations, including the National Trust, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts.

The reports, each setting out a vision for restoring nature in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, will be launched at events in London, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh this evening (Tuesday, 13 October).

They follow 2013’s State of Nature report, the first ever comprehensive stock-take of our native species. It revealed that 60% of the species studied had declined over recent decades. One in ten species were at threat of disappearing altogether.

Each of the reports launched tonight make key recommendations to which governments must respond to, to help restore nature in the UK.

A misty sunrise on Ibsley Common, New Forest, Hampshire, in August.

The reports call on central and devolved governments to deliver an inspiring vision for nature, establish a network of special places for nature to help threatened species recover and improve the connection of young people to nature for their own health and well-being and for nature’s future.

Speaking tonight at the London launch, presenter of children’s programme Deadly 60 and Springwatch, Steve Backshall, will say: “The State of Nature report revealed where we are. Now we need a plan for where we should go. The Response for Nature document starts us on that long road.

“Action can’t be simply hived off to a single, hard-pressed department in Whitehall. It must run as a matter of course through every department, from Defra to the Treasury. Every individual, from top to bottom, needs to embrace it, and act on it.”

Puffins on the Farne Islands off of the Northumberland coast

Puffins on the Farne Islands off of the Northumberland coast

David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust and co-author of the Response for Nature report, says: “We have to do more than simply halt nature’s decline. We need to reverse it once and for all.

“That can only happen if we are able to connect nature with people. If people understand why nature matters, they’re going to care. And if they care about nature, they’re more likely to act to protect it.”

Read the full Response for Nature reports at You can join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #responsefornature

The sounds of our shores

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Imogen Tinkler, communications intern for the National Trust, looks back at some of the highlights from the ‘Sounds of our shores’ project

After three months, over 680 uploads and around 67,000 listens, the ‘Sounds of Our Shores’ project in collaboration with the British Library and the National Trust for Scotland has come to a close.

As well as encouraging people to get out and explore the seaside, the aim of this coastal sound map was to create a ‘snapshot’ of the UK coastline that could be preserved for future generations. Yet the sounds that we have received not only create a sense of what our shores sound like in 2015, but also reveal much about our relationship with the coast.

Waves crash against the rocks at Heddon's Mouth, North Devon.

Waves crash against the rocks at Heddon’s Mouth, North Devon. Credit National Trust.

One discovery we’ve made through this project is the sheer diversity of sounds that can be heard near the sea. On the soundmap, the classic noises of seagulls and waves breaking on the shore sit alongside some more unusual contributions, such as the roar of ‘The Deluge’ chain flush inside the (now disused) ornate Victorian toilets on Rothesay seafront in Glasgow.   Continue reading

A collection of wild words

Last week we posted a blog about gathering together wild words that capture our relationship with the natural world and we’ve had a great response from our members and supporters – thank you. Writer and naturalist Robert Macfarlane had put out a call for local and regional words, the autumn issue of the National Trust magazine, to include in the paperback edition of his book Landmarks, which will be out in spring 2016.

Here are some of the suggestions that have arrived in our in-boxes in the last seven days and there is still plenty of time (until the end of October) to add your favourites to the list by emailing You can tweet your words about the natural world using the hashtag #naturewords.

Ladybird on sunflower leaves at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, in June.

In Norfolk a ladybird is known as a ‘Bishybarnybee’

Wild words:
From Hampshire we have ‘emmits’ for ants

A few Norfolk Words:
Dodman is a snail
Bishybarnybee is ladybird
Mavish is song thrush
Sowpig is woodlouse
Spink is a finch

A Staffordshire wild word is ‘puthery’ -the intense stillness and humidity before a thunderstorm. Staffordshire

Words with possible multiple origins via south Oxfordshire, Somerset, Sussex, Buckinghamshire and Angus:
Frith: the darkness of a forest in the height of summer
Foggage: mossy grass (used by my Scottish grandmother)
Harkwell: a woodpecker
Lummy: round straw bale
Moorcock: a grouse
Tath: cowpats
Ughten: twilight in the morning
Whinnock: a little piglet

A nice Northumberland wild word – ‘Clarts’ meaning Muddiness under foot.

A collection of Staffordshire wild words:
‘Slang’ – a small wood, usually one that’s grown up around a Marl Pit
‘Marl Pit’- a pond or depression where in days gone by red clay or “Marl” was dug, either for pottery, brickmaking or to make sandy soils heavier and less acidic

In Cumbria a ‘lonning’ means a back lane, a green lane or much used track in rural locations

Some Lancashire dialect words:
Neddy is a Hare
Lops is Fleas
Moidie, mowdywarp are words for a Mole
Hay moo, hay rick are words for Hay stack
Clags, clart are works for mud
Plank platt are words for a bridge

Yorkshire wild words:
foss/ force means a waterfall
frozzed referring to face or fingers being very cold
clarty means dirty, muddy, sticky

And finally a ‘Spronky’ is a word to describe word root vegetables which have grown with multiple roots/don’t look particularly traditional

A coastal walk will make you sleep longer and feel happier

  • UK coast walkers sleep an average of 47 minutes longer after a walk by the sea
  • Coastal walking boosts feelings of calm and happiness and provides walkers with a sense of escape
  • Coastal walks offer a distraction from the stresses of everyday life (63 per cent) and make people feel positive about their lives in general (55 per cent)
Family walking along the clifftop at Birling Gap, part of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs range, East Sussex. The Belle Tout Lighthouse (not NT owned) is seen in the distance.

Family walking along the clifftop at Birling Gap, part of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs range, East Sussex. Credit National Trust.

A walk by the coast will have you sleeping an extra 47 minutes on average as well as providing you with feelings of calm (83 per cent), happiness (82 per cent) and a sense of escapism (62 per cent), according to a national report out today.

Over two thirds (69 per cent) of Brits state they fall into a deeper sleep after being by the coast with one in three (36 per cent) also saying that the thought alone of the sea helps them sleep at night.

The research has been carried out as part of the National Trust’s Great British Walk campaign, run in partnership with Cotswold Outdoor, to look at how walking on the coast really impacts on our wellbeing and to encourage people to explore our UK coastline, of which 775 miles is cared for by the conservation charity.

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Wildlife on the Great Orme

Matthew Oates, National Specialist on Nature and Wildlife for the National Trust, shares his love for the Great Orme in North Wales and the wildlife that calls it home.

The Great Orme is a place of pilgrimage for British naturalists.  Try finding a botanist or a butterfly enthusiast who hasn’t been there, or at least one who doesn’t desperately want to visit.  It is also on the birders’ radar, for its increasing Chough population and because it is a place where rare migrants turn up.  Bat, beetle, lichen, moss, moth and marine wildlife enthusiasts also know and love the Great Orme, as do geologists, geographers and archaeologists. In effect, it is a wildlife paradise.

The Great Orme, 12/05/15. Photograph Richard Williams 07901518159

The Great Orme, Credit National Trust, Richard Williams

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