Westonbirt Magazine

Autumn 2018

Autumn life in the arboretum

As the days begin to draw in and the mornings cast a chill in the air, you can sense the change of season. It’s a time of transition at the arboretum. Many trees are in glorious autumn colour and animals are busy preparing winter stores.

Whilst many birds prepare for the long flight to warmer climates, others arrive to spend winter here. About half the UK’s bird species migrate. Some are famous for the flamboyance of their travel, such as swallows on route to their African winter or the flocks of geese and swans arriving in formation over our coasts. But for some, such as the common blackbird arriving from winter in Eastern Europe, and many of our birds of prey that leave to find more favourable hunting grounds abroad, their migration is a singular affair.

September

Redwings travel extremely long distances


The Redwing, flies around 500 miles across the North Sea to winter in the UK. In the face of strong winds and stormy weather, not every bird will make it; a form of natural selection that means only the fittest survive.

October

One of the nation's favourite wildlife animal

Hedgehogs eat as much as they can in autumn to build up their reserves for hibernation. Incredibly, their heart rate drops from their usual 190 beats per minute to just 20 during hibernation.

A plentiful time of year Autumn provides a bounty of food for our wildlife. There are blackberries in the hedgerows, crab apples, hazelnuts and seeds are plentiful, and berries weigh down the branches of trees. It’s a busy time for animals to feast and horde as they prepare for hibernation or stock up for the long winter ahead.

November

Weasels have a short but lively life in the wild

Time to horde We are all familiar with the squirrel’s habit of storing food for winter but they are certainly not alone. Moles store earthworms, biting off their heads to keep them alive but immobilised. Those that aren’t eaten will grow a new head segment in time to escape in spring.

A weasel’s life expectancy in the wild is just two to three years. They must be robust hunters in winter when food is scarce but it’s a dangerous world for weasels too, with owls, foxes and cats among their many foes. Weasels produce one or two litters of between four to six kittens each year.


We love seeing what you've discovered on your adventures when visiting the arboretum so please share your wildlife sightings with us on Instagram using #FriendsOfWestonbirt or emailing us.

Feature stories

See our headline features from current and past magazines

Enjoyed the latest magazine? Make a donation to support our vital work!