Autumn is seen as a season of change, and therefore you can often experience all four seasons within a short period of time. This has been quite true in the last few weeks which has led to spectacular scenery, subtle colours and wild weather.

The usual autumnal feel has been dominant with; deciduous leaves creating a kaleidoscope of reds, ambers and yellows; temperatures averaging in single figures; and nuts and berries covering rowans, hawthorns, hazels and oak trees. Wildlife has reacted this these changes and our first winter migrants are starting to appear around the reserve. First redwings and now fieldfares are gorging on berries, and bramblings are mixing in with the chaffinch flocks feeding on beech mast along the lakeside road. Look out for the white flash of the bramblings rump as they flush from the road.

Straining Tower with autumnal colours (archive photo by Gavin Chambers)

Though winter doesn’t start till the 1st December, according to the meteorological calendar, we have experienced some stunning crisp mornings with ice covered windscreens and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. These first frosty mornings will help start the process of stratification, whereby certain seeds, berries or nuts, get softened by the freezing and thawing processes before allowing water to penetrate the seed and allow germination.

Despite some cold nights, the day has warmed up quite nicely giving it a feel of spring. The last of the insects have been on the wing, with red admiral and comma butterflies being seen, and hoverflies and wasps taking advantage of late flowering ivy. There are few nectar sources left at this time of year and therefore is it really important to leave ivy intact and not cut it back until flowering is over. Certain bird species have a tendency to start singing again in autumn and these warmer days are likely to encourage this. Robins, wren and late chiffchaffs are often heard, with the former going on throughout the autumn and into winter.

Red admiral on ivy flowers (photo by Gavin Chambers near Lake Vyrnwy)

Rain tends to be a feature of all seasons at Lake Vyrnwy, but we have had our fair share of it this October. From our 3 rain gauge measurements it was the 2nd wettest month of the year after March and the wettest October, for 2 of the rain gauges, since 2014. Water levels have remained high throughout the year and has therefore been overtopping the dam on several occasions recently, creating stunning views and a sometimes therapeutic white noise.

Lake Vyrnwy dam by Gavin Chambers

Confession: If you read my last blog, you will have seen I posted a recording of a bat which I took to be a serotine bat. However, having consulted our local county Bat Recorder, it was in fact a noctule bat. Much commoner and seen or heard frequently at Lake Vyrnwy through the summer and early autumn. See updated blog link below.

Gavin Chambers, Warden

Previous Blog: Gone Batty!