Red Rowan berries


Autumn on the doorstep

25 Aug , 2017  

With eight days left of August 2017, perhaps, it’s too soon to be thinking of autumn. But all around us, we’re seeing clear signs of the changing season. Autumn; starts early here in the highlands of Scotland. This year, with its untypical weather patterns, the changes are happening particularly early. All around us are indications autumn is very nearby.

It’s odd; each season seems to sneak up on you. You’ve just got use to summer, then suddenly from out of nowhere, the nights are getting shorter. The countryside starts showing the signs, it’s preparing for the next season.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised after all we’ve been picking mushroom for the last few weeks. Rowan trees that once only bore green leaves now have bright red clumps of berries. The birches have started to deposit yellow leaves on our lawns, a foretaste of things to come. But it doesn’t feel like autumn. The hottest day for 4 weeks happened only just yesterday.

The other day we got the hint that summer was losing the battle with autumn. We’ve enjoyed watching the Yellowhammers and Siskins feeding in our garden all summer. Then a week or so ago they disappeared. Breeding accomplished, they have now left us and the uplands, for lower gentler climes. Hopefully, they will return next year to raise another brood and we will be able to enjoy the splashes of yellow.

The shortening days mean we can get to bed earlier; as we don’t need stay until after 11:00pm to watch the Badgers. Our two “regulars” are putting on large amounts of weight. Legs that were once easily visible are gradually disappearing below very portly Badgers. No doubt, fat stores for the winter to come. I am sure our peanut treats have contributed to the new look.

We used to see the bats flying around the tops of the beech and oak trees, during the summer. Darker nights mean we need to turn on our outside lights, to see the badgers. These inevitably attract a vast array of moths and other insects. The bats; provide a spectacular flying display, right outside our windows. They too will leave us in a few months, to hibernate throughout the winter.

We’ve had hordes of juvenile Chaffinches and Tits all summer. Our resident bird population seem to have breed with some success. But soon they too, will move on to find territories of their own. The young Great Spotted Woodpeckers are starting to be chased away from the peanut feeders by the male. The time is coming when he will want to re-claim his territory for himself.

For now, we are playing a waiting game. Hopefully Long Tailed Tits will soon return to our feeders, although they are late this year. Last year we were already enjoying their company and taking some pictures. Last winter we had four Treecreepers, who spent the winter with us. We’ve caught the occasional sighting of adult birds inspecting the trees during the summer, but nothing like the regular winter visits. Again, anticipation is high that we will be able to watch these fascinating birds throughout the winter.

And later with a bit of luck, there will be the Redwings. Their invasion to feast on the Rowan berries is an autumn highlight. Maybe this year we’ll be able to get some better pictures.

Don’t worry if you are still enjoying summer, were you live. I am sure that there are subtle signs that the great changes is on its way. We may be among the first, but what starts here in the highlands, will reach the rest of the UK. Autumn travels at an average of 2mph. If this year is the same, then Cornwall is still a month or more away from the signs of autumn.

With all the changes taking place, I suppose it’s time for us to make some autumn and winter plans. The deer rut will be soon be here, and we need to get some mountain hares in their winter coats. Oh and with the colder weather we can get some great landscapes. Oh and, well maybe I won’t go on. Autumn is here and it is the changes in nature and the countryside that make our type of photography challenging and invigorating. Now, where’s my winter coat?


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