Saturday 19 December 2015

Early Autumn

The first tentative signs of autumn in Milton Country Park first appear in late September and early October.

Oak tree with a few red leaves
Remembrance Meadow - 22 September 2015

The signs can be almost imperceptible: in this case just a few leaves on the oak tree have turned a vivid red.

Single reed by small inlet
Todd's Pit - 20 September 2015

Or, an equally subtle change, the leaves on a reed turning yellow.

Such changes can be the result of stress or disease.  But, as there have been no extreme weather during the summer of 2015, it is likely that the alterations in colour are a genuine response to the change in season.

Yellowing elder tree in woods
Path on East Side of Dickerson's Pit - 22 September 2015

In the woods to the east of Dickerson's Pit, this elder bush is turning yellow before any other trees in the vicinity.

Hawthorn bush with red foliage amongst other green bushes
South of Park - 22 September 205

Amongst any other factors that affect the rate of change to autumn colours, position has some role.  This hawthorn bush is growing in a position to catch the afternoon and evening sun, and has turned red a long time ahead of most of the other hawthorns in the park. I have already noticed during previous months, that there can be anything up to a month between the first and last appearance of some change or other in the park.  

Sycamore beside deep water
Deep Water - 4 October 2015

One of the earliest trees to complete the transition to autumn colours was this sycamore tree on the south east corner of Deep Water.

I have found it a lot easier to capture these very early and tentative signs of the change of season than I did the corresponding changes in spring.  This is partly because the transition from the bare and brown to the green and fully leaved happened very quickly: in the case of hawthorn the change completed in little more than a fortnight.  This autumn, at least, the changes have been far more gradual and spread over a period of months. Secondly, by the time a fledgling leaf on a bough is large enough to register in anything but closeup, the tree or bush is already covered in confluent vegetation and the change is complete.  Finally, as shown above, there is a wide variation in the start of and the speed of change across the park: a sycamore completely yellow when other sycamores stayed green for another couple of months.

An Autumn Morning

Footprints in dewy grass
Sundial Meadow - 11 October 2015

I finish with that most autumnal of scenes: grass covered in dew shiny in the early morning sunlight, complete with the photographer's transport and footprints.

Books and Blogs

There are a lot of nature blogs on the net, most of which are more concerned with the fauna than with the landscape.  One of my favourites is Tales of the City featuring wild life in London.  Two others, mostly photographic, are Roy's Nature Logbook and The Quiet Walker .

Next: Late Flowers

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