An update from Lindy – our Tour Guide Manager and Conservationist
October is the culmination of summer fruits and the beginning of autumn fungi on Hush Heath Estate. The berries, acorns, sweet chestnuts and horse chestnuts are in abundance, providing their rich palette of colours as well as nutrients for those species which are fattening up in preparation for winter. Different species of fungus are appearing overnight to pop up in the meadows and woodland, with shaggy ink-caps and parasols adding to the vegetation.
The windfalls from our apple trees will be attracting bright red admirals and comma butterflies which are feasting on them prior to winter. Commas are easily identifiable with their ragged wings and rich orange upper wings marked with dabs of black. They have been on the estate for several months by now, sometimes appearing on the wing in sunny days in February. But in this month, they are having a last ‘fling’ before overwintering in outbuildings during cold months.
October is also the commencement of the rutting season for our beautiful deer on the estate. Generally, the males and females remain in single sex hers, but at this time of year they congregate in rutting stands. This is the males’ annual ritual which they preface by rubbing their antlers on tree bark and other behaviours, to attract the females. Then during the rest of this month and into November the bucks compete for the does’ attention by bellowing or groaning and becoming very competitive towards other males. They use their antlers to charge each other and fiercely fight, which can be very aggressive. A deer will usually live an average of 3-5 years, the females surviving slightly longer.
Around the estate signs of autumn are gradually emerging. Harvest is in full swing, and days are getting shorter and darkness falling earlier. Most species are taking the opportunity to build up their larders and store them before the fruits and nuts die away. Approximately half of British birds migrate, and they too need to store fat for their long journeys. It is in this month that we may see large flocks passing over our estate and the fabulous sight of huge clouds of birds setting out. Every species has its own ‘map’ which they follow rather than randomly flying.
Starling murmurations, the fabulous cloud of thousands of birds, may also be seen at dusk. This is a complex and mathematical display seen as they fly to keep warm and discuss feeding grounds with each other before they bed down for the night. If we are lucky to see this on the estate, it is worth stopping and watching the amazing performance.
October presents so many opportunities, with the crisp days and beautiful class scenery, followed by some delicious wine and food, is not to be missed. Take a look at our available tours.Back to Blog