Autumn marks a magical season of transformation in the natural world; trees become flaming beacons of orange, amber and aubergine, the crisp autumn air signals hibernation for many species and ripe berries adorn the hedgerows.
There is a tangible, cosy nostalgia about the winding down of a hectic summer, as we settle down for the colder months.
Nature is exciting and awe-inspiring all year round, but autumn is particularly enchanting. Make sure to look out for these autumnal gems of the natural world.
These furry little critters may appear a little scatty at this time of year, but that's only because they're busy making preparations for the whole of winter! Squirrels quite literally 'squirrel away' nuts and seeds in little caches dug in the ground. The location of which is then committed to memory in order to sustain them throughout the cold winter months.
In fact, the average squirrel's brain has been shown to increase by 15 percent in autumn, so think of that next time you're watching one frantically darting about the place.
Leaves changing colour
Is there anything more autumny than the sight of leaves changing colour. Parks, woodlands and gardens are set alight with russet reds, burnt oranges, and flaming yellows. This annual event is a feast for the eyes and a colourful visual indicator of the changing season, but why exactly does it happen?
Basically, the green colour in leaves is chlorophyll, which is what absorbs light for the process of photosynthesis. With diminishing daylight hours, this green pigment breaks down and other colours (that were always there!) show through. The tree is going into survival mode to see out the harsh winter climate.
Equinox is Latin for 'equal light' and happens in autumn and in spring. As the diagram above illustrates; it is two opposites of four equidistant points, including the winter and summer solstices.
It marks the point at which the sun is directly above the line of the equator, meaning that the world receives an equal proportion of light and dark at this time.
Nuts, seeds and berries
Autumn is harvest season, when lots of trees and shrubs bear nuts, seeds and berries. Hedgerows are full of blackberries ready to be picked and made into a crumble along with a few juicy fallen apples.
Horse chestnut trees are laden with conkers, just waiting for schoolchildren and string. The deep green leaves of the mountain ash is suddenly bursting with bright red clusters of rowan berries. Autumn is a fabulous season for foragers, find out more here.
Harvest full moon
The Harvest moon is the full moon closest to the equinox. This year (2018) the Harvest moon will rise on the eve of September 25. The name refers to the time of the year when traditionally the harvest would have been gathered; a time of great significance in the farming calendar and one that many communities celebrate. It marks a time of reflection and mental preparation for harder times ahead as we approach the colder season.
In spiritual terms, it can be seen as a time for a little introspection and a chance to take stock of where you're at emotional and physically. We are reminded to be present, to give thanks for all that we have and to nourish ourselves (body and soul) for the coming winter months.
The migratory habits of certain bird species remains a source of wonderment, that we are only just beginning to truly understand. The Swallow is possibly one of the most iconic birds that makes a yearly voyage of tens of thousands of miles, from the British Isles all the way to warmer African shores.
This is quite an extraordinary feat for such a small bird and yet another reminder of how truly incredible nature is. Next time you see one of these fork-tailed, blue, red and white aerial acrobats; make sure to give it a little salute and think of the journey it embarks on each year.