Downs Diary


Nature is gearing up for winter as the leaves turn a wonderful range of Autumnal colours. Various plants and trees produce berries or fruit to provide many animals and insects with a very important source of food not only to fatten them up for winter, but also to keep them going for the upcoming cold months. Many berries can be found on the Downs such as ivy, holly, privet, whitebeam and blackthorn. One other berry that can be found is the spindle, but be very careful as spindle is poisonous and should never be handled, let alone eaten! They do however make a wonderful subject to photograph.

Redwings are coming in from Scandinavia and can be seen foraging on berries. They can be recognized by the red flash they have under their wings and beautiful snow white chest with dark specks.

Long-tailed tits and pied wagtails are a common feature of the Downs at this time along with European blackbirds and starlings. Robins are very territorial around this time of year and will chase much bigger birds away from food!

Bats go into a state of torpor (or inactivity) in order to conserve energy when their insect food is hard to find. Their temperature drops and heart rate slows allowing them to survive on only a few grams of stored fat. Although inactive the body is still alive and producing toxic waste products however, so they have to ‘wake-up’ at least every 2 weeks to excrete these.

Photographs © Denice Stout, Unsplash tine-ivanic-Zx-oqevBfT4