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Fungi in Garbutt WoodFungi in Garbutt Wood

As Autumn arrives, it's just a small matter of waiting for the trees to explode into their auburn colours, nature’s last roar of the year, before the leaves start to fall.

After the beautiful purple shades on the moorland, it's time for trees to do their thing. Our woodlands really come into their own this month, changing our view of a green landscape into one of a myriad different warm hues. You'll be rewarded with vibrant colours of red, orange, mahogany, mustard and gold, and a multitude of fading greens, as well as impressive fungi clinging to standing and fallen deadwood.

Our tip

Dalby Forest is at its best in autumn. The blues and greens of pines and spruces being complemented by the golden needles of larch, the bright yellow of ash leaves, the red leaves of wild cherries and the greens, yellows and russet browns of oak. Top locations to enjoy the autumn shades in the Forest include Haygate, Crosscliff, Staindale Lake and Bickley Gate.

Also look out for:

  • Fungi galore. On the forest floor the caps, spikes and spheres of fungi put in their annual appearance. Russulas and agarics grow amongst the conifer needles and faded grasses, while yellow spikes of Stag’s horn fungus and the aptly named Candle Snuff sprout from decaying stumps. As leaves rain down and moisture builds up in the soil the fungi begin to fruit. These are the fascinating shapes we see: Shaggy Inkcaps, Stinkhorn, Jelly Ear, Chicken of the Woods, Orange Peel Fungus, Puffballs and Penny Buns.
  • Popular spots to hunt for fungi include woodland near Goathland, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Little Beck Wood, and, in the Howardian Hills, Yearsley Moor and Grimston Moor. Both of these have areas of deciduous and coniferous trees, deadwood on the ground and woodland tracks. Remember to keep to footpaths and bridleways when searching for fungi in areas of privately owned woodland.
  • Sloes, ripe now on blackthorn trees. Look out for them in scrubland, woodland and hedgerows on your walks. The extremely bitter purple/blue fruits are superb for making a traditional warming liqueur – sloe gin, but remember to leave some for the birds! Sloes are said to be at their best when picked after the first frosts. Whether you can wait that long is up to you but the fruit should be plump and juicy before it's picked. Sloes form on the second year’s growth so try hedges that were not cut the previous winter.
  • Red deer and fallow deer rutting. Deer stags are at the peak of their fitness and are ready to battle antler to antler to gain dominance of a harem of hinds. Lots of dramatic bellowing, posturing and bashing around to intimidate their rivals ensues! Deer parks provide a great chance to see and hear this impressive natural show, but wild deer do roam around the moors too. Herds are known to graze in the clearings at the ancient woodland Ashberry Nature Reserve, near Rievaulx, maintained by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - so a stealthy early morning visit might pay dividends.

Walks of the month

As October is the best month for autumn colour, it has to be a woodland walk or two or three...

The Yorkshire Arboretum in the Howardian Hills, with 6,000 trees and its mix of native and non-native trees is spectacular as the leaves turn rich shades of red, yellow and orange. It's a great place for a wander. Alternatively a walk on the footpaths and bridleways through the woodlands of the Hovingham Estate (pdf) are also stunning.

Back in the National Park, the 3.2 km Ellerburn walk in the prettiest corner of Thornton le Dale, follows the beck upstream to the hamlet. The stroll, along the riverside, roads and pavements, takes in a majestic row of orange beech trees and includes the Tea Cosy Tearoom at the halfway point with a lovely garden.

Yorkshire Coast Nature tips

The experts at Yorkshire Coast Nature are our eyes on the ground, here's Richard Baines' advice on what else to look out for this month.

Goldcrest copyright Richard BainesI am sure most people would agree that bird migration is one of the real wonders of the world. How do birds weighing no more than 5 grams migrate many hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles? Do tiny Goldcrests really fly across the wild North Sea? Or do they, as east coast communities once thought, fly on the back of larger birds such as geese or woodcocks? Well of course birds can and do fly thousands of miles, they don’t hitch hike and the earth is not flat!  

Bird ringing is a wonderful way we can learn about where birds go, when they leave, how far they travel and how quickly they can fly.

Releasing a ringed  Redpoll copyright Richard BainesBird ringing is a wonderful way we can learn about where birds go, when they leave, how far they travel and how quickly they can fly. 

With this information we can target conservation projects on their flyway to increase their chance of survival. 

The science behind bird ringing is fairly simple, but birds can be injured in the process so you need to train for several years before you’re allowed out with a net and rings on your own. 

In 2002 I bought the Bird Migration Atlas published by the British Trust for Ornithology; this is by far the best bird book I ever bought. The results of many decades of voluntary work in one amazing book about virtually any British bird you could name.  

But for some of the best migration stories you need, look no further than our three Bird Observatories on the Yorkshire Coast; Spurn, Flamborough and Filey. October is one of the big months for bird ringing as hundreds of thousands of birds arrive and depart, and stop off for a breather and a bite to eat. The habitat at each Bird Observatory is carefully looked after to make sure each bird gets a proper meal and if they could drink Yorkshire tea….

So here are three of my favourite bird migration stories from 2016, from one of our Bird Observatories, Filey Brigg on the Yorkshire coast written just after each event by Mark James Pearson (Filey Bird Observatory Communications Officer). You can feel the excitement in his words as the news of each ringing recovery came through.

Mealy Redpoll copyright Dan LombardThe Fastest redpoll in the west

We've just received amazing news of a bird which we caught during our Ringing & Migration Week last month... 

a Common (Mealy) Redpoll bearing a Norwegian ring is exciting enough, but incredibly, we now know it was ringed on the island of Jomfrundland - the day before! 

It was ringed at midday on 21 October 2016 and we caught it at 08:10 the next morning - that's 796km, in less than a day.... 796 km in 20 hrs = 40 km/hr.

The Woodcock pilot  

Still can't get your head around the fact that a bird barely the length of your index finger and the weight of a 20p piece can cross the North Sea as a matter of routine? Well, here's proof.... a Goldcrest ringed at Svebolle, Bjergsted in Denmark on 2 October 2016 was re-trapped by our ringing team here in Filey just five days later, having covered more than 750 km in the meantime!  

Oystercatcher copyright Dan LombardWhere do young Oystercatchers go after leaving home?

Another fascinating ringing story just in, this time of a born-and-bred Filey Oystercatcher that was ringed as a chick at our East Lea reserve on 1 July 2016 and re-trapped down the coast by the Wash Wader Ringing Group at Wainfleet Marsh on 17 September 2016 - a testament to the conservation work at the reserve which included the creation of a bespoke gravel island, and also to the Benny Hill style capture of the chicks!  

Autumn 2019 Bird Migration Events
  • The northern two Observatories; Filey and Flamborough are holding a Ringing & Migration Week (Migweek). This festival of birds takes place 12-20 October. All events are free and open to anyone who loves birds and wildlife.
  • As part of Migweek, Yorkshire Coast Nature will be leading free walks throughout the week