Downs Diary


Changes in daylight and temperature cause the green chemical called chlorophyll to be broken down and reabsorbed from the leaves back into the tree. Previously masked yellow and orange pigments then become visible giving trees their spectacular autumn splendour. Other chemical changes may occur giving other reddish hues. Look out for the breath-taking changes in the Avon Gorge and the beech avenue along the Promenade during October and November.

Downs promenade in autumn

Look out for the fungal fruit bodies of puff-ball, ear and parasol fungi. Fungi play a vital role in recycling; breaking down fallen leaves and wood and returning essential nutrients to the soil. If the weather’s fine, red admirals will feed on ivy this month. Flowering in September and October, ivy provides an important energy source for insects late in the season.

Fly agaric

October brings winter thrushes like fieldfares and redwings to our shores. Famished after a long flight from Northern Europe they descend on the hawthorn bushes, their chattering calls giving away their hidden presence. Look out for these seemingly ‘musical bushes’.

Redwing (copyright Jane Roby)

Photographs © Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project, Denice Stout, Jane Roby, Marilyn Adams.