Nature and Conservation


Wildlife Ways September 2018


My recent dog walks, buffeted by the first of this winter’s UK storms, seeing the first leaves being stripped from the trees along with a few small branches and a scattering of horse chestnuts, transport me back to mychildhood and the excitement of collecting the perfectly polished jewels from their spikey cases. 

I love the change in seasons and this one is always so dramatic, leaves whipped into a frenzy by the still-mild winds and the hedgerows full of vibrant red berries and rosehips, ripe apples falling from the trees.  Nature’s larder full to brimming in readiness for winter’s chill.

As a self-confessed overthinker, I love to analyse and wonder on the beauty of nature and how it has evolved perfectly so that each bird, insect, plant and animal fits perfectly into its own habitat, its own niche.  Looking at how creatures and plants have evolved to connect seamlessly like some stunning jigsaw, each reliant on another, providing food or shelter in intricate food webs – it is mind blowing really!

Autumn always brings a breath-taking array of colour as well as the promise of cosy evenings in front of the fire with rosy, wind-whipped cheeks after fresh, leaf crunching walks spotting wildlife scurrying around in preparation.  The squirrels are scampering across the woodland floor, busily collecting acorns for their winter stores, much to the excitement and frustration of the poor dog, and the birds are beginning to flock together as we all know there is safety in numbers.

The sun’s appearances are getting shorter and shorter and it is hanging lower in the often brooding, grey sky and the temperatures are beginning to drop.  The hedgehog is emptying its bowl nightly, hopefully building up to the ideal weight to get it safely through winter hibernation and the bird feeders are being ransacked by growing flocks of starlings and house sparrows.  I’m looking forward to watching the murmurations growing as the nights draw in. 

On our rainy walk this morning we came upon a muntjac deer, which I have to admit I first thought was a dog – its rain-soaked fur had an almost brindle colouring.  As we got nearer, it was unmistakably a muntjac with its distinctive raised rear end and its big dark eyes, and with no antlers it must have been a doe.  First introduced to the UK as escapees from Woburn in the early 1800’s they are now quite widespread and are generally solitary animals, feeding on nuts, flowers, fungi and berries, especially bramble.

Closer to home the sunflowers have been attracting lots of attention from hungry birds including a green finch, the first we’ve seen in the garden for a long time.  Much more entertaining  though, is watching the wood pigeon precariously hanging almost upside down from the drooping flower head to reach the seeds.  I am always amused at how seemingly clumsy these great big birds are, smashing through the trees in such an noisy and ungainly manner, I always think they must be so robust.  They are so unlike the usual sleek image that is conjured when thinking of the avian form cutting silently through the air.  Just another few hours of evolutionary pondering for me…  

I hope that you all share my passion for the change of seasons and if you don’t I am convinced that a leaf-kicking autumn walk through the woods will bring back your inner child – go on! Get out there take in the dramatic beauty of autumn, kick a few leaves, jump in a few puddles and  let yourself go


Please feel free to ask questions, send me your wildlife news or offer suggestions of what you would like me to include in future -113 Ermine Street or and thank you for all of the emails you have sent so far.