Posted on 1st October 2014
Autumn really establishes itself in October. Gales can blow seabirds far inland, where they are sometimes seen at large man-made lakes such as Rutland Water.
However, if the weather is more settled and warm, dragonflies and other wildlife more usually associated with the summer, continues to thrive and can be seen at the Trust’s wetland nature reserves, for example Cossington Meadows, Wanlip Meadows, Kelham Bridge and Rutland Water.
The Trust’s Charnwood Lodge National Nature Reserve and Ulverscroft Nature Reserve are excellent places in which to see fungi which can be particularly apparent this month. They are also wonderful places to see the autumn colours of the trees. The leaves of birch, beech, oak and others change through a variety of colours before finally falling.
See the Nature Reserves section of this website, or your Trust Nature Reserves Guide, for more information.
Before the leaves fall from our broadleaved trees, it is a wonderful time to get out and enjoy the changes of colour from green to yellow, orange, brown and even red. The recipe for a glorious autumn seems to be bright still days with cold frost-free nights.
As we watch the change to autumn colour we are actually witnessing the draining of chlorophyll (green pigment) from leaves. This is what plants use to harness energy from the sun to manufacture food made from water and carbon dioxide to make simple sugars.
In the autumn and winter the dwindling sunlight does not provide enough energy so trees close down their solar powered system and shed their leaves. As chlorophyll levels drop, carotenoids - the yellow, orange and brown pigments - are slowly revealed. You can see this effect in birch trees whose leaves turn a zesty lemon hue, and beech trees that range from yellow through to copper.
Another group of pigments , anthocyanins, are active at the end of summer to produce the more exotic reds of, for example, wild cherry.
Photograph: You could explore Poultney Wood, part of the Trust’s Ulverscroft Nature Reserve (Michael Jeeves/LRWT).