Five things to look out for this autumn
1 Porcelain fungus
Autumn is the best time to see unusual and fascinating fungi - porcelain fungus is specific to beech wood and appears from late summer until late autumn on dead trunks and fallen branches. Occasionally it grows on dead branches high up in living trees and often seen in clusters. It also takes the name poached egg fungus or slimy beech cap for the slithery nature of the cap. Find your nearest woodland to explore further!
2 Guelder rose berries
The berries, or 'drupes', are carried in small groups of 20-30, the cluster drooping under the weight of the berries as they ripen from September through October, brightening and deepening in berries - flashes of the crimson berries make them visible in strange damp places. The berries are an important food source for birds such as bullfinches and mistle thrushes.
3 Old man's beard
Visibly twisting and curling in and around hedgerows in autumn, sometimes known as traveller's joy or old man's beard, clematis vitalba is a wild climber with branched, grooved stems, deciduous leaves, and scented greeny-white flowers with fluffy underlying sepals. The many fruits formed have long silky appendages which, seen together, give the characteristic appearance of beards.
4 Pink footed geese
As over wintering geese start to arrive, among the first are pink footed geese, they will be flying in from Eastern Europe, arriving on lakes all over the region, along with other migraotry species. Their arrival is often heralded by the noise they make, flocks can produce a medley of high-pitched honking calls, being particularly vocal in flight, with large skeins being almost deafening.
Stonechats are robin-sized birds, the males have striking black heads with white around the side of their neck, orange-red breasts and a mottled brown back, while females have brown backs and an orange tinge to their chests. These birds are frequently seen flicking their wings while perched, often on the tops of low bushes. As the name suggests, birds utter a sharp loud call sounding like two stones being tapped together. They breed in western and southern parts of the UK, but disperse more widely in autumn and winter.