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Ford and Etal

Wildlife drama unfolds in autumn

Other posts by  |  Kevin OHara on Google+ |  October 27, 2011 | 0 Comments
Greylag geese

Greylag geese migrate to Northumberland in late Autumn © North East Wildlife

The arrival of Autumn is one of the richest and most dramatic seasons of the year. In Northumberland and the Scottish Borders you will witness migrations, creatures preparing for winter, and weird and wonderful fungi.

Most birds and mammals will now busy themselves getting ready for winter. There are fruits, nuts, and seeds everywhere in this rural county. The harvest includes hazel nuts, apples, blackberries and seeds.  All this is set against a backdrop of rich, warm colours.

As the Northern hemisphere moves away from the sun the days become shorter. The night skies will change and, with rainy August a thing of the past, it is time to bring out your telescope or camera and capture everything – near and far.

In fact, many photographers say that Autumn is there favourites season because of the vibrant colours and the special quality of the light. There are mists in the morning, creating a surreal atmosphere, and some of the best sunsets in the Northern part of the British Isles.

Come to Northumberland and look for:

Flocks of birds: Northumberland National Park is home to one of the rarest birds in the England – the Hen Harrier. Head to the south of the park this Autumn for a chance at spotting this rare breed. Geese migrating to the U.K. for the winter can be spotted in the county, as well as long-tits. Flocks of waders will be seen near the coast, and there will be plenty of bird life in the woods.  on coastal estuaries.  Look for flocks of jackdaws, rooks and carrion crows flying to woodland roosts on Autumn evenings. The Svalbard-breeding population of Pale-bellied Brent Geese can be seen near Holy Island.

Fungi: There are many locations in Northumberland to see fungi.  For example, Rupert’s Wood north of Otterburn in Redesdale is a top choice for nature lovers to explore in the Autumn. The wood comprises a mixed woodland including some ancient trees. Fungi here can be found on the forest floor and on trees too. But they can also be spotted in parks and grassland areas. Use a book to identify fungi, or take a course or a walking tour with an expert. Don’t forget to be careful – some species are very poisonous and only experts can identify the ones safe to eat.

A deer rut: Autumn is mating season for deers, known as the rut. The area near Hadrian’s Wall is one of the best for spotting the deer rut. The stags and bucks fight rival males to attract a females.  In Britain the red deer is the largest land mammal; the stags have the most spectacular antlers of any British species. Listen carefully and you will hear the barking and roaring of deer at night.

Spiders and bats: Love them or loath them, bats and spiders are fascinating creatures nonetheless. Kielder Castle has colonies of pipestrelle and brown long-eared bats. They breed and hibernate in the roof of the castle and wildlife rangers carry out guide evening walks to see and hear the bats – via ultrasound detectors. Be sure to check details and book ahead. Find out more about bats at the Northumberland Bat Group website.

The Cheviots, late Autumn

The Cheviots in Autumn, Northumberland National Park

Spiders are present throughout the year but are much more visible in the Autumn. You can see the drifting gossamer on plants and other objects produced by dispersing baby spiders, abundant enough to be seen on plants and other objects.

Spiders reach high points on high objects and create silk threads, once there the spiders will be carried long distances by the wind. In Northumberland you will find spiders on stone walls, old buildings, in castles and on hedgerows.

Conkers and sweet chestnuts: Discover conkers within the green casing of the horse chestnut.  Find sweet chestnuts to roast on an open fire.

Berry-picking: Come to  Brocksbushes Farm near Corbridge and you will discover more than 50 acres of land growing blackberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, tayberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and plums.

There is lots more to see in Northumberland and The Scottish Borders. Go to our events section to discover what do do and see: http://www.thisisnorthumberland.com/events

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