While all around us people are going batty for pumpkins, I was more excited for something else orange today.
A really pleasant sight met my eyes this morning as the tree at the bottom of my garden transformed overnight into a fantastic firework of orange leaves, meaning Autumn is well underway.
Autumn is one of my favourite seasons as it means Fungi hunts, rutting deer and incredible starling murmurations.
In case I'd forgotten not everything in the world is changing the kestrel I see every morning on my commute was there again peering around on the top of her favourite telephone pole, on the look out for prey.
Autumn is a perfect season to get out and appreciate earth's natural rhythms and changes but sometimes the things you see every day can be just as good.
These photos were taken by Nigel Blake and Paul Sawer respectively and come from our own photo library, RSPB Images. Browse to find more breathtaking photos like this (you can order a print or canvas if any takes your fancy).
Nature’s cleverest tricksters and masters of disguise – revealed!
Today, children the UK-over will be donning scary costumes and indulging in a little trick-or-treating for Halloween. But for the natural world, tricks and disguises are part of every day survival.
Perfect prankstersCuckoos are the ultimate tricksters, laying their eggs in the nests of other birds so that the foster parent will bring up their young for them. Cuckoo eggs even mimic the colour of the host bird’s own brood. This is developed over time, as different cuckoos stick to their chosen host bird down the generations. So a cuckoo reared amongst the blue eggs of a dunnock nest will lay hers in a dunnock’s nest too.
And the prize for best costume goes to... Evolution has created the perfect ‘fancy-dress’ outfit for the lunar hornet moth, which appears to predators as a dangerous wasp. The black and red ladybird spider also mimics its namesake in order to sneak up on unsuspecting prey - and the black hairstreak caterpillar has made sure it isn’t mistaken for a tasty treat by evolving to look like bird poo!
Scariest maskPeacock butterflies have developed large ‘eye’ spots on their wings to confuse and intimidate predators. While the grey, bark-like colouring on their undersides allow them to ‘disappear’ when at rest on a branch or trunk.
Zombie snakesGrass snakes not only present a convincing display of looking dead to trick predators – rolling onto their sides, mouths open, tongues lolling – they can also produce a foul stench and even secrete blood from their mouth and nose!
Distraction tacticsNesting lapwing, along with other waders and plovers, may fake a broken wing when a predator is nearby to lure it away from its defenseless chicks.
Why not try something different this Halloween?
It’s the time of year when lots of people think about having a bonfire – whether it’s to burn garden waste, to mark Bonfire Night or just to enjoy the dancing flames and sticky marshmallows.
To a hedgehog, a big pile of branches, leaves, bits of wood and other garden debris looks like the perfect place to spend the winter!
If you’re planning a bonfire, the best way to avoid harming hedgehogs is to leave building your fire until as late as possible. That way, they won’t have time to take up residence before you strike the match.
But if you have to build your bonfire in advance, please check it for prickly guests by giving the pile a poke with a stick (not a sharp stick), so they can wake up and make their escape.
A compost heap is another common place for hedgehogs to hibernate, so if you have one, try to avoid turning it over too often... hedgehogs don’t like to be woken up!
Give a hedgehog a home
If you have hedgehogs in your neighbourhood, how about making them a safe place to spend the winter? We’ve got all the tips and advice you need
Or you can buy a hedgehog home from our shop. In fact, we have hedgehog food too, so why not treat your prickly, snuffly friends?