Six first signs that autumn is on its way

Autumn trees lining a street
Autumnal walk (Photo: M Barton/WTML)

Summer’s almost over and all around us there are signs that nature is starting to get ready for the winter months. Here are a few first signs of autumn to look out for.

Six first signs of autumn

1. Turning leaves
When there’s less sunlight, trees stop producing chlorophyll, which they use to convert light into energy to grow. It’s chlorophyll that gives leaves their green colour, so without it they begin to turn yellow, russet or red. How fast they change colour depends on the type of tree and the area. Have you spotted any turning leaves yet?

2. Migrating birds
Birds can start to head off to warmer climates as early as mid-August. Watch out for huge flocks of swallows lining up on telegraph wires, getting ready for their 6,000 mile journey to South Africa for the winter. Before long we’ll start to see some arrivals too, such as the flocks of redwings that fly south from Scandinavia and Iceland. The redwing looks like a small, brown thrush with a white stripe above its eyes and a patch of reddish brown under its wings.

3. Fruits for foraging
Late August to early September is prime time for blackberries. But look out for clusters of little purple-black elderberries too. Both types of berry are delicious in cakes and crumbles – check out our scrummy recipes.

4. Flowering ivy
Look closely at the dark green ivy trailing over trees, old buildings and garden walls and you’ll see little clumps of yellow-green flowers. Ivy is one of the few plants to flower in the autumn and on a sunny day you’ll see lots of insects buzzing around it for a feast.

To find out more about ivy, visit our ivy species page.

5. Falling seeds
Watch out for the little sycamore helicopters twizzling around in the breeze, and ripe brown acorns being carried off by squirrels.

6. Fungi
A damp August means that there’s a bumper crop of autumn fungi springing up in woodlands. They come in an amazing range of colours and some very weird shapes. But remember that a few are poisonous, so look but don’t touch!

Why not be a real Nature Detective and record your sightings of the early signs of autumn on our Nature's Calendar website? The information we collect from people all over the country will help us learn more about how the changing climate affects the seasons.

Spotted signs of autumn?

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