Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Autumn's Bounty

Autumn is a bountiful time of year for Gibside's wildlife with trees and bushes laden with nuts, seeds and berries.  Acorns from the Avenue oaks (these are mostly non-native turkey oaks but there are a few native oaks as well) provide a feast for squirrels and jays (a colourful member of the crow family) and much time is spent by both of these caching away the surplus in readiness for leaner times ahead.  Roe deer will also take advantage of such a feast and in quiet times will visit the Avenue to fatten up on the acorns. 

Jay on Avenue searching for acorns

Female roe deer on Avenue in search of acorns

With the good summer we had this year many trees and shrubs have produced good crops of berries and these will provide food for both mammals and birds.  Badgers take advantage of this alternative food supply and many are busy gorging on yew berries.  Look out for their latrine sites (there are a number on the Avenue) and you may see some of their droppings contain mostly yew seeds.  Birds, such as thrushes, also feed on berries and can strip a bush or tree bare within hours.  Look out also for the first of the year's fieldfares and redwings arriving to join in the feasting.

Badger dropping containing undigested yew berries and seeds 

Redwing a common winter visitor

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