Autumn in South Devon has been beautiful. The sun captured the rich colour on the hills, and the woodlands worked their seasonal magic to become every photographer’s dream.
On Dartmoor bracken turned the landscape bronze and gold. Mosses grew lush on granite walls and rainfall revived the rivers. In full spate the rushing water lifted salmon from the pools where they’d waited to complete the most important journey of their lives. Then they battled their way to the shallows of their birth insuring the survival of a dwindling species.
Fruit has been plentiful. Blackberries have been harvested for pies and jams, sloe gin is maturing, nuts have been gathered. Hawthorn and holly bow under the weight of blood red berries, while flocks of small birds fly from feast to feast, raiding nature’s store before winter begins to bite.
At ground level, spider-spin caught in the sun glistens mile after mile, highlighting the delicate workmanship of those tiny creatures. In the woodlands toadstools have sprung up among the leaf litter. High above, leaves sway and shimmer creating a multi-coloured canopy of dying beauty.
Birdsong has increased after the long dry summer silence and grey squirrels are acrobatically active.
Sadly, those in authority have jumped on the fashionable bandwagon of a project to kill grey squirrels. Declaring them aliens here, in an effort to make room for the red squirrel, is wrong for they have been with us for over a century. Red squirrels survive in great numbers in France and much of Northern Europe where huge woodlands still exist. Maybe our lack of forests is a key factor to the lack of red squirrels!
Thankfully we welcome our winter visitors, as migrating birds flock to our leys and estuaries.
Even during autumn we can count on a regular wildlife bonanza.