Autumn falling forward


Woodland for Sale
Woodlands for sale throughout the UK. Call 01727 701641 for current availability in your area.

Vantage Land
01727 701641

Experts are researching whether Autumn is starting earlier. A public survey organised by the BBC, the Woodland Trust, and the UK Phenology Network – is recording the first signs of the changing season.

Members of the public have been asked to look out for six signs of autumn and record them on the BBC website. Three of the signs are recorded from July: the first ripe brambles and hawthorn berries and the last swift. From September, people are asked to look out for ripe conkers, the changing colours of oak leaves, and the first flowers on ivy plants.

Autumn does not officially start until the autumnal equinox on September 22 this year, although meteorologists take September 1 as its beginning.

"You would expect the longer summers of recent years to delay the start of autumn, but droughts can cause trees to lose their leaves a lot earlier," said a spokesman from the Woodland Trust. "Everything used to have its set place in the year. Nature is responding to our change in climate, falling out of sync and getting messed up. It impacts upon everything."

Dr Colin Braithwaite, who is involved in the study of climate change at the University of Glasgow, said: "There is lots of evidence that spring is starting sooner but there does not seem to be such strong evidence of an early start to autumn.

"At the moment you can go out in the countryside and find trees with leaves that are already turning red. Normally we would take that as a signal that autumn was starting. However, this could just be an effect of a generally disturbed weather pattern associated with global warming."

The survey results from the the past few years show a trend for autumn to start earlier.
Of the six indicators, three have been spotted earlier in Scotland than in 2000, two are around the same time, while one appears to be slightly later.

While in 2000, the average time to spot a ripened bramble was September 12, in 2004 the average was September 1, almost two weeks earlier. This year brambles have already been spotted ripe as early as July 13, although final results are still being compiled.

Dermot Fitzsimons, of the Dowanhill Allotment Association, said gardeners had noticed a trend for autumnal fruit to ripen earlier. He said: "I've noticed that my brambles are already ripe this year. They're definitely ripening earlier than they used to."

The second indicator of autumn, the hawthorn berry, has not shown any obvious change in ripening time since 2000, however there have been 19 reports of hawthorn berries ripening in Scotland so far this year, with the earliest recorded on August 8.

The average recorded sightings of swifts leaving for warmer climes in the survey also moved forward from the August 28 in 2000 to August 18 in 2004. This year, the RSPB confirmed swifts have mostly been spotted leaving in the first two weeks of August.

The Woodland Trust believes swifts may leave earlier because warmer weather allows their young to fledge more quickly.

Get the latest woodland news direct to your desktop with the Woodland Owner RSS feed RSS XML Feed.

Back to Woodland News