Citizen science records collected by public for the Woodland Trust show autumn has finally arrived, and experts predict one of the best autumn colour displays in years. Fruiting data also shows the best crop of autumn berries in over a decade.

Data collected by the public for the Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar project suggests that autumn has arrived, as records of leaf tinting in tree species such as horse chestnut, beech and sycamore are being recorded across the country (live maps). The data suggests that autumn colour is more than two weeks later than average, as first leaf tinting records are around 14 days later than previous years for species such as ash, elder, oak and horse chestnut.

Experts at the Trust predict weather conditions will create vibrant colours this autumn, making this year particularly great for ‘leaf peeping’. Both chemical and weather conditions can have an effect on autumn colour, and this year’s weather conditions have been optimum for an array of vibrant leaf tinting.1

The records collected for the Trust’s Nature’s Calendar project have also shown the best crop of autumn fruit since fruiting records started 12 years ago, for crops of bramble, rowan and elder. Nature’s Calendar asks members of the public to record first sightings of leaf tint along with that of ripe berries, scoring the abundance of fruit on a scale of 1-5, 1 being no fruit and 5 being exceptional. Last year’s Nature’s Calendar records displayed the lowest fruiting scores on average since the Trust started collecting records 12 years ago, for 14 of the 16 tree and shrubs species recorded by the project’s volunteers.2 This year’s records have shown almost the opposite, as records sent in so far of bramble, rowan and elder are the highest in over a decade.3

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Nature’s Calendar Project Manager said: “Our records have identified that autumn colour is around two weeks late with the active growing season for trees and shrubs a little extended this year. The good news for wildlife is that it should be much better placed to survive the winter this year thanks to the bountiful crop of fruit. This is particularly good for hibernating species that need to store enough fat reserves to last through winter. Last year, birds and mammals suffered some of the poorest fruiting crop in years and this, coupled with the prolonged cold snap in spring, meant that many species had to endure a long period without a decent food supply.”

She continued: “We need the public to record their autumn sightings on our Nature’s Calendar website; this information is then compiled and used by scientists, conservationists and also by Government in order to better understand the impacts of the changing climate on some of the UK’s most-loved native species. Without this information, entirely provided by members of the public, we would have much less of an idea of how our changing seasons impact on our native flora and fauna so we really need people to keep recording.”

Anyone can become a Nature’s Calendar recorder and make a real and valuable contribution to citizen science and the long-term studies into the impact of climate change on wildlife by visiting naturescalendar.org.uk

To find your nearest autumn wood, go to www.visitwoods.org.uk

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