What to look for on an autumn nature walk
Hello! In this tutorial, we are going to look at how to do an autumn nature walk and what to look for on an autumn nature walk. Are you ready? Lets get started!
Doing an autumn nature walk
When doing any nature walk, not just an autumn nature walk, it is worth taking a moment before you start, to think about what you might expect to smell, hear and see. Then, think about where you might find those things.
In most of our habitats, the main groups you will expect to find, are trees, plants, birds, bugs and animals.
And to find them, we need to pay attention to our six nature walk directions.
- Up in the sky
- In the canopy
- Above head level
- Within the shrub layer
- Among the plant layer
- On or below the ground
Lets see what we might find in each category.
Identifying Autumn Trees
In all seasons, there are clues and signs to look for when identifying trees and fortunately, autumn is no exception. In fact, it can be easier to identify any trees you find in the autumn, than in any other season. Why? Because there are so many clues around to help you.
You can find trees in many places – woodlands, hedgerows, parks and even along city streets. Remember to look in all directions for your clues – you may well see seeds flying like helicopters through the sky or nuts being buried (often by birds or animals) under the surface of the earth!
Plants to spot in the autumn
While we may associate plants with the spring and summer, there are still a variety of plants (and non-plants) to spot in the autumn. Again, look in all the directions. You may find plants way up in the tree canopy as well as in the ground.
Some plants (and not-quite-plants) to look for, are, ivy, mistletoe, ‘weeds’, flowering plants such as Michaelmas daisy and cyclamen, ferns, moss and lichens.
Remember, you can find plants in the most unlikely places, including between concrete slabs and walls, in meadows, fields, forests, hedgerows, riversides, seasides… the list goes on!
What birds can I spot in the autumn?
The fact that trees and shrubs at this time of the year are bursting with seeds, fruits and berries, makes it an excellent time to spot autumn birds. Not just that, but there is also a cross-over between our usual birds, and seasonal visitors. You may see flocks flying overhead, or gathering and swirling over the fields; visiting our garden bird feeders, or hiding in the shrubs and hedgerows.
Some of the birds to look for, are:
- Geese, swans and ducks
- Fieldfares, redwings and waxwings
- Starings, blackbirds, robins
- Bluetits, great tits, long-tailed tits
- Woodpeckers, goldcrests and nuthatches
- Owls and other birds of prey
Remember – you may not always see them – sometimes you can hear them. So, always keep your ears open – even in the city. We once visited a busy Christmas market. It was so noisy, that we barely heard the little twitter, twitter, twitter going on in the background. But, after tuning into the sound and finally looking up, we were greeted with the sight of hundreds of beautiful, pink, long-tailed tits all gathered in the trees around the market. There were so many, just above head level, and yet nobody had noticed. It was an experience I have never forgotten.
What Insects can I spot in the autumn?
Even though many insects disappear in the winter, there are still plenty of bugs to go around. Again, keep you eyes and ears open in all directions in order to find them. Here are a few examples:
- Slugs and snails
Which animals can I find in the autumn?
As in all seasons, much of our wildlife is timid and shy. But, if you stay really calm and quite and keep your eyes wide open, you may begin to notice them – or signs of them. The animals themselves, their homes, their left-over meals, scat, tracks and footprints… they are all there if you pay attention.
Some of the animals you are most likely to see, are foxes, hedgehogs, badgers, mice, bats, squirrels and deer.
Foxes can be spotted… anywhere, hedgehogs might be night-time visitors in your own back garden. Mice can be found in thickets or tall grass; badgers are very shy, but you might stumble across their sets in the forest. Deer can be spotted in fields, parks and forest clearings; bats can be spied at dusk near canals, and rivers. And, of course, squirrels can also be spotted almost anywhere!
Which can you spot on your nature walks?
Ideas for your autumn nature journal
Some great ideas for your autumn nature journal, are:
- Watch, sketch and write about migrating geese flocks
- Gather, sketch, press and describe autumn leaves
- Sketch and describe nuts and seeds
- Find and sketch animal or bird tracks
Make sure to note down the colours and textures of the things you see; the way they move, the sounds they make; the impressions they give you when you see or handle them.
Ideas for an autumn nature table
One way to encourage thoughtful and spontaneous nature study, is to keep a nature table. These can be a mixture of sketches, photographs, notes or finds. A few ideas, are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and berries
- Pine cones
- Autumn leaves
- Bird feathers
Look at them, handle them and generally think about them. Why do sycamore seeds have membranous wings? Why are conkers round? Is there reason this feather is short and fluffy, but that feather sleek and long? Why are some autumn leaves orange, others yellow and some red? What are pine cones?
Well… there we go! A run through of what to look for on your autumn nature walk. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial? Let me know in the comments. Happy nature walking and see you soon!
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