Autumn: a time of change. Green leaves give way to golden. Birds migrate, cheerfully swapping the stereotypical British weather for warmer climates, and many animals prepare for hibernation. Already the conkers and acorns are falling to the ground, the remains left in small clusters by squirrels after an early morning picnic. Everything is in a state of flux, and with the promise of chilly winds and rain ahead, the nights drawing in and the summer sunshine long faded away, it can be difficult to keep a positive outlook and stay active out of doors. Grey mornings and darker evenings mean we often make a habit of staying in - sometimes becoming less active and less sociable as a result.

So, to keep the summer blues away we thought we’d put together a collection of ideas to help boost positivity and a list of activities to do during your visit this Autumn…


A Brisk Walk

Don a woolly hat and scarf, make sure you’re wrapped up warm and head out on a walk around the reserve. It takes about 45 minutes to walk from the visitor centre around the whole of Forge Mill Lake in a circular route. Along the way write down all the positive things you can see or think of: the birds you spot, the shape and colour of the leaves. You could turn this into a nature journal full of all the different kinds of flora and fauna you see on your daily adventures.

Earthy Sounds

When was the last time you stopped to listen to the sounds of the natural world? Autumn has so many unique sounds of its own. Unlike summer where the bees are buzzing and there's a warm breeze, Autumn is full of earthy sounds: the crunching of leaves beneath your feet, the tapping of rain, the creaking of tall trees and the rush of wind through bare branches. Stop and sit for a minute or two. What can you hear?


Leaves, Rocks and Mushrooms

As we head towards the end of the month there will soon be sycamore and oak and birch leaves all joined together in piles on the woodland floor, and even a variety of mushrooms. Take time to notice where you walk and discover the small things that may have otherwise passed by unseen. Collect some leaves together and compare their differences, or, if you prefer a challenge, collect some small rocks and have a go at balancing them on top of each other. Rock-balancing (also known as stone-stacking) has been used by different cultures all over the world, and today it is often done to help people relax, improve concentration, meditate, play, and create art. If your stack falls down, don't give up - try again.

A Hot Cuppa

There’s nothing better than sitting down for a hot cuppa in the cooler months of the year. Enjoy a cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate (or even a chocolatte!), relax and watch the birds on the feeders from the Visitor Centre. It’s a beautiful view whatever the weather’s doing and it’s the best place to stop after a long walk.


Boosting Creativity

A change of scenery is a great way to boost creativity. There have been many great writers and poets over the years who have taken great inspiration from the nature and wildlife around them such as William Wordsworth, Emily Bronte and Alfred Tennyson.

Lengthen night and shorten day;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

-  An excerpt from Fall, Leaves, Fall by Emily Bronte.

There are also quite a few places to sit and draw across the reserve, but on chillier days you might find a great view of the lake from the Hide if you’re interested in landscapes, or you can sit and draw the birds you see on the feeders from the visitor centre. Whether you draw in pencil, pen or watercolour we’d love to see your creations! Tag us on Facebook at @RSPBWestMidlandsWarwickshire or Twitter at @RSPBSandwell.



Volunteering is one of the most rewarding activities you can do – our volunteers can vouch for that! Whether you've got half an hour or half a day to spare, we're always looking for enthusiastic individuals to join the team at RSPB Sandwell Valley. There are roles on the visitor desk and in the Hide, become a member of our morning work parties or join our Community Forum. Pop in to Nature's Reach for a chat or email us at You can view some of the volunteering opportunities we have available here. Wherever you are, if you love being part of team and have a love of nature and wildlife, we'd love to hear from you.

Next time you’re feeling a bit blue, head outside for a breath of fresh air and blow those cobwebs away.

 - the RSPB Sandwell Valley Team


Photography by Andy Purcell and Emily White