It seems fitting that this, the 50th Anniversary of RSPB Ynys-hir with it’s wonderful sessile oak woodlands, should be what is called a “mast” year for acorns. A year when trees produce an abundance of their “seeds”. This is the year when the oaks are quite literally showering us with their abundance.

Acorns have been raining down on the woodland floor for the last few weeks at Ynys-hir and in woodlands all around. Walking across the reserve car park feels as if you are walking on ball bearings.

So, why do trees do this?

It is thought that one of the main reasons is to create “predator saturation”. Lots of animals, small mammals and birds, feed on nuts and seeds of the trees. By over producing the tree ensure that even after “predation” of their produce, there will be enough uneaten acorn or seeds to set root and grow. One day becoming a mighty oak in the woodland.

As with in the Spring lockdown, where you can in this next couple of weeks a walk outside will help to lift  spirits and  give us the chance to enjoy the last burst of colour from the trees around us.

Firework displays this year have been cancelled, however nature is providing us with a spectacular show of its’ own. Autumn is the time that our hedgerows and trees in parks, gardens and local woodlands change into a stunning array of yellows, oranges and reds. Losing the green colour produced from the chlorophyll the other colour pigments in the leaves can now be seen and enjoyed.  In order to save energy during the winter months the trees then let the leaves fall. Nothing beats a walk through the leaves at this time of year.

In your gardens these fallen leaves have a huge benefit for garden wildlife and the health of your soil. Lots of invertebrates such as millipedes, centipedes, and worms will be busy breaking down the newly fallen leaves into wonderful humus. Returning vital minerals back into the soil. You can leave the leaves on garden beds to breakdown or if you gather them up from the lawn, leave them in a pile in a corner where they will decompose and be perfect to cover your veg and flower beds come next year. Another advantage to this is that they can provide perfect over wintering home for hibernating wildlife such as hedgehogs.

Why not spend some time at dusk over Halloween outside too? As the weather is still relatively mild, it is a great time to look and watch bats flying and  feeding on the insects and moths still around. Or listen to see if you can hear owls calling. There are some great ideas for families to do either at home or on a local walk on the RSPB website Wildlife Challenge section. RSPB Ynys-hir reserve will be closed from 23rd October until 10th November.