Autumn has arrived at Brownsea

Boardwalk on Brownsea Island © Nicki Tutton 

Now October has arrived, the island is looking ever more autumnal. Fungi is starting to appear on rotten logs and dead trees all over the reserve; the squirrels are busy caching food for the winter ahead; eerie cries of sika stags ring out across the island in the dusk and early morning.

It has been a busy summer, welcoming visitors, keeping our wildlife garden looking good, watching the terns go through their courtship, nesting and fledging of young. Now as the season winds down the terns have moved on, heading for their wintering grounds in South and West Africa, and the more sedate waders are starting to build in number. Flocks of avocet, godwit and redshank are starting to increase, evening cormorant roosts are growing, and the peregrine has returned to her usual winter perch on the far side of the lagoon, having no doubt spent her summer nesting on a cliff or high building nearby.

The squirrels have had a seemingly successful summer, and youngsters have been seen fairly often, recognisable by their smaller size and their look of not quite having grown into their feet! As the autumn moves on, they become easier to spot, their winter preparations distracting them and allowing visitors great views of them on the ground searching for and burying food. Their tails lose their blonde colouring at this time of year and grow dark, almost black, and their ear tufts are less pronounced.

The trees are still green at present but are starting to change their colours, and with the rough weather of late many have dropped their leaves earlier than intended. Sweet chestnut and hazel are in fruit, the sweet chestnut promising a bounteous harvest for squirrel and human residents alike! Blackberries and rosehips are in abundance also, and birds are enjoying their large crop.

As the visitor season on Brownsea draws to a close, the winter work plan is in place. With time of course for harbour bird boats and members’ days to allow the public a glimpse into the wonderful world of the island in winter. And hopefully, they can’t fail to be impressed! 

Brownsea Island is open to the public until Sunday 3rd November 2019.