As the memories of the long hazy days of summer on Dorset's beautiful beaches start to fade, the Dorset countryside begins to take on the warm hues of early Autumn. This is without a doubt my favourite time of year in Dorset as the landscape is at its most atmospheric. Any early risers among you will be treated to a particularly fabulous spectacle around dawn when soft golden sunlight illuminates the hills, while the shady valleys remain laced with mist and frost.
The dewy mornings and humid wet days result in our woodlands exuding the familiar musty smell of fungus and decay. This is the perfect time to search for some of the many colourful and interesting toadstools and fungi which can be found in Dorset, but you’ll need to be quick as the fruiting bodies of many species don’t last long. They often appear shortly after rain but are quickly eaten by hungry mice, slugs and snails.
You’ll also need a keen eye to spot some of the well-concealed but fascinating species which occur amongst the leaf litter on the woodland floor. It’s only when you get down to their level that you can appreciate the vibrant colours, intricate shapes and textures which led to some intriguing names such as horn of plenty, earth star and shaggy pholiota.
The fallow deer rut is at its peak in mid October. Bucks are in prime condition with very impressive antlers and the Deer Park at Stock Gaylard, just half an hour or so from our properties has a fabulous collection.
While the kaleidoscope of Autumn colour delights our eyes, the changing scenery also brings about changes to the local wildlife.
Most of the summer’s swifts, swallows and martins have departed to warmer climes, but they are replaced with a bevy of winter visitors such as redwing and fieldfare, which appear in time to feast on the wild fruit which now adorns hedgerows throughout the county.
Flocks of starlings begin roosting en masse for protection and warmth in the dense reedbeds all along the coast. At the water’s edge the shorebird migration is almost at an end. Wading birds such as sanderling, grey plover and purple sandpiper have arrived for the winter. Just before sunset skeins of wild brent geese fly back to their overnight roosts on the Fleet lagoon and in Poole harbour.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR OUR NEXT BLOG ABOUT SOME OF DORSET'S BEST AUTUMN WALKS :-)
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