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Nature of Britain Calendar: October

Updated Wednesday, 1st October 2008

Encourage one of the UK's favourite residents to stay with you by providing a hedgehog home

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Do one thing

Make a hedgehog home for hibernation or leave a woodpile to create natural crevices. Don’t forget to check for hedgehogs before lighting bonfire piles.

What to look for

Autumn is here. The scarlet berries of black bryony string the hedges and luminous red berries of guelder rose glow in damp woods.

Other colours provided by late flowers include the yellow of ragwort and the soft purple of water mint.

Fungi are at their best, so look under birch trees for the distinctive fly agaric with its red cap and white spots, and the red, purple and yellow russulas.

On rocky coasts, grey seals are breeding.

On muddy estuaries, wader numbers are building up. Curlews and godwits mingle with oystercatchers and redshank on the mudflats around Britain.

At night listen out for the soft sighing of redwings as they arrive into our countryside; you can often hear their calls even above night traffic.

Watch out for red deer and fallow deer in parks and woods and see the males fighting each other for access to groups of females.

In the garden, hedgehogs are looking for hibernation spots and fat orb spiders sit in their spiral webs.

Look out for the 22-spot ladybird, which is a vegetarian and active long after others have gone to sleep for the winter.

Did you know

The giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea) can reach sizes of up to 150cm and weigh in at 20kg. A large specimen might contain up to 7 trillion spores! Find out more at the British Mycological Society.

Habitat of the month: Woodland

A last burst of activity with leaves turning colour and berries ripening.

Many animals are busy stocking up for the winter so keep an eye out for birds feeding on the ripened berries and looking for invertebrates in the leaf litter.

Photo opportunity: Fungi

Many types of fungi send up their fruiting bodies at this time of year. Get down on your elbows to get up close. A small tripod is useful to keep the lens steady, especially as the light can be low. Be careful and don’t touch as some fungi can be poisonous.

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