Scotland in Autumn: What Happens on the Reserve
Written by: Stewart Borland
Published: 14th September 2017
Discover the beauty of Scotland in Autumn and learn about some of the key changes you can expect to see on the reserve over the next few months. Not near the reserve? Don’t worry! You can follow all of nature’s changes on our Facebook page. You can also play a vital role in our conservation efforts by sponsoring a habitat box, buying a plot, saving our trees or giving the gift that keeps on giving.
Scotland in Autumn: Insects
During autumn our bees prepare to go to sleep. The drones (males) leave the hive as they serve no purpose through the winter. Meanwhile in the hive, the female worker bees and the queen form a central cluster, keeping warm by rapidly beating their wings to generate heat – an action quite different to the ‘flapping’ required to fly. The female bees survive the winter on the hive’s honey stores – for this reason we don’t harvest any honey from our eight hives.
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Scotland in Autumn: Animals
The majestic red deer will start to lose its russet coat – turning grey-brown to blend in with the bracken as it turns from luscious green to burnt amber. It is in fact our pigs who dig up the bracken roots to naturally restrict its spread, allowing us to avoid the use of chemicals.
The feeding stations and nesting boxes which brought our native red squirrels back to the reserve last year will provide a helpful source of nuts for caching, as well as a cosy nest in which to keep warm (red squirrels don’t hibernate through the winter, but like to stay in bed a little longer – don’t we all!)
Through the night, mice will make their way to the squirrel feeders to stock up their own cache. Some will carry away what often looks like their own body weight in hazelnuts, while others will simply use the space for a rest – as we recently discovered!
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Scotland in Autumn: Trees And Plants
Trees will spread their seeds through autumn, like the sycamore’s winged ‘helicopter’ seed or the horse chestnut’s famous ‘conker’ (naturialised in but not native to Scotland). Last year we collected seeds from the holly, rowan, hazel and oak trees on the reserve in order to start growing our own. These young saplings will continue to flourish through autumn in the warmth of our polytunnel, mitigating the risk of disease through their native origins.
The reserve’s rowan trees will start to grow bushels of red berries, proving an irresistible treat for our pine martens, who remain active throughout the autumn. The larch is the only pine tree which changes colour during autumn, and is only pine tree in the country which will drop its needles to grow new ones.
Sadly thousands of our young larch trees are currently at risk from sudden oak death – a disease which is as nasty as it sounds. We have our work cut out for us to mitigate the impact of sudden oak death on the reserve, both through the autumn and thereafter.
Please help us by sponsoring part of the affected area. In return, your name and a message can be displayed on a display board. 100% of your contribution will go towards the cost of saving our oak trees (we have already been promised the cost of the board by a donor).
Become a sponsor and help Save Our Trees