Autumn 2017 Newsletter #2

By mid-October it really should be feeling “Autumnal”, yet the temperature at dawn this morning was a sultry 14 degrees C and now, at midday, it stands at 18!! I have led some great walks this month: as a passionate follower of the Fallow rut it’s really great to share this fascinating and dynamic event, but, this year, maybe due to the high temperatures, it has seemed almost sluggish. We did have a hair-raising moment as a solitary buck sprinted directly towards us one day – he actually jinked away in good time and was merely heading to the lake for a good drink!! The bucks are constantly patrolling their harems and fighting off rival males so their work rate is phenomenal – no wonder he was thirsty!!

Another walk was one of my “Combi” events: lots of foraging and bushcraft! Despite the damp my clients were absolute stars and we soon had the upside-down fire blazing! The days “special” was stir fried pheasant with chestnuts, rosehips, haws, plantain seed heads, blackberries and a good handful of wild sorrel: delicious!!

Traditionally I do a few Dawn walks in the springtime, but this month I led a sunrise walk at the beautiful Winkworth Arboretum for a group of photographers. We met at dawn and were privileged to witness a clear sky and a golden sunrise! As the light levels increased the Autumnal opportunities for photography became obvious: stunning foliage on shrubs and trees, various fungi, birds such as Dabchick and Mandarin duck and, of course, the gorgeous landscape.

Autumn is the ideal opportunity to take a more mindful look at the countryside. I appreciate that it is a bit of a “buzz word” at the moment, but it is really important if you want to get the most enjoyment from nature! Don’t be content with just using your eyes! Listen to the birdsong and the sounds of chestnuts and acorns falling from the trees. Smell that classic odour of piles of damp leaves just starting to break down. Taste the hips and the haws, the Parasol mushrooms and the sweet chestnuts.

And, feel the temperature drop – not in a negative way but being positive enough to know that a good chill is so necessary for the wildlife to function successfully through our wonderful seasons in the UK: bees begin to cluster; a myriad of insects move into hibernation and many of our mammals click into breeding mode. With this in mind you can actually start looking forward to Winter rather than dreading it!!