By Toni, 23rd Sep 2022
Although the trees may have started to shed their leaves a few weeks early this year thanks to the recent heatwave, autumn officially starts on 23rd September. Every season has its unique charms, but we think there’s something extra special about autumn here at Bryngarw Country Park. As the air turns cooler and fresher, a riot of vibrant colour erupts across the landscape, a sweet musty aroma rises from the damp forest floors and you can wander along the trails while softly swishing through a carpet of crunchy leaves.
Whether you’ll be visiting us for a quiet walk or a more energetic day out with the kids, here are just a few of the things to look out for around the park this autumn.
Fungi thrive in damp conditions, so this is a great time of year to spot our native mushrooms and toadstools. You’ll find them in various places around the park – dotted across the fields, nestled in the nooks of rotting logs, poking up through the carpet of fallen leaves and clinging to the trunks of trees. Fungi are fascinating; varying in colour, shape, size, and some have delightfully quirky names such as earthstar, puffball, jelly ear, and elf cup. If you have a smartphone, there are mushroom identification apps you can use to find out more about the fungi you discover around Bryngarw Country Park.
Please remember not to pick any fungi that you find – not only will you be disturbing the natural habitat, but some fungi are extremely poisonous, so they’re best left untouched.
It’s all go for many birds during the autumn. Those that can’t endure a British winter – like swallows, swifts, nightingales and cuckoos – fly south to warmer habitats in southern Europe and Africa.
While some species leave the UK, other species fly over to our shores to escape the harsh northern winters in places like Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia. Larger species include swans, geese and ducks but these are joined by smaller species including finches, redwings, and waxwings. With meadow, woodland and wetland habitats here at Bryngarw, there are plenty of opportunities to spot some of the UK’s autumn visitors.
While some foliage will stay green, much of the park is transformed into a dazzling display of reds, russets, oranges and golds over the coming weeks. Our Japanese-inspired garden is nothing short of stunning at this time of year, especially the Japanese acers with their fiery reds and rich orange tones.
The leaves of deciduous trees make this dramatic change in autumn as the weather and light conditions cause a natural lull in the production of chlorophyll – the pigment that gives leaves their green colour. With the reduction in chlorophyll, other colours begin to show through, and the leaves take on their familiar autumnal hues. If you’re visiting with the kids, collecting and identifying leaves is a fun activity and helps children learn about our native trees. You can download our ‘Look for Leaves’ spotter sheet and other nature activities here.
September and October are busy months for the wildlife at Bryngarw Country Park. With winter fast approaching, many of our native animals are fattening themselves up in preparation. Birds and smaller mammals spend lots of time searching for food, making the most of hedgerows bursting with berries and the nuts and seeds that litter the forest floor. Some, like hedgehogs and dormice, will feast and then hibernate during the chilly winter months. Others, like squirrels, can be seen scurrying around the park, busily collecting food to store in a secret hidey hole.
The incredible industriousness of some of our tiniest, yet often overlooked, inhabitants also becomes strikingly apparent at this time of year. On dewy, frosty autumn mornings, the fields and bushes sparkle with thousands of delicate, silver spiderwebs. Definitely a sight not to be missed!
The park is open from 10 am to 5.30 pm until 30th September 2022. From 1st October, our winter opening hours will be 10 am to 4.30 pm.