Here is our guide to Britain’s best wildlife spectacles to spot in autumn, including places to see and wildlife facts.
Some of the most magnificent spectacles in nature’s calendar are the starling murmurations that grace our skies from autumn, peaking in late November and early December. Thousands of starlings can be seen taking flight and forming dark shapes, which rise, dip and turn in perfect unison. Sometimes these hypnotic clouds can be made up of over 100,000 starlings as hordes of new migrant birds continue to arrive in Britain each week. Early evening is the best time to view this soiree as starlings take flight to choose their night-time shelters. Malltraeth Marsh in Anglesey, RSPB Leighton Moss in Lancashire and Ham Wall in Somerset have put on some of the best shoes in the past.
Barnacle geese ©Getty
Although they began arriving in September, the size of wintering geese flocks will peak this month. Geese including Canada, Barnacle and Greylag will continue to arrive in vast numbers as they stop off in Britain to feed on their journey from the Arctic Circle. Expect to see impeccable V-shaped formations flapping across the skyline in one of nature’s most intriguing displays. Areas on the west coast are most likely to see the greatest numbers of arrivals, but there are a huge number of potential roosting spots dotted around the UK, including wetlands and nature reserves.
From England’s far south to the Scottish Highlands, the red deer rut is an autumn highlight ©Getty
The annual deer rut is iconic of autumn. A steely sky provides the backdrop for an awe inspiring and violent contest that sees stags lock antlers in battle. Because does are only in their fertile stage for about a day each year competition is ferocious. The rut is a truly tremendous display of power from Britain’s most majestic creature and is certainly one of the highlights on nature’s calendar. Some of the best places to view such a spectacle are the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Arran, Exmoor, Dartmoor and the New Forest. Watch from a safe distance and be careful not to disturb deer during the rutting season.
By late summer, leaves are already beginning to change colour, reaching their most spectacular hues in October ©Getty
The changing colours of autumn are the most visible and obvious of all the spectacles. Trees are beginning to blaze with intense yellows, reds and copper and will continue to do so in the coming weeks. Combined with the golden veil of low autumn sun, treelines will soon become nature’s own enchanting canvas. These magnificent sights will adorn the whole of Britain, but Stourhead Gardens in Wiltshire usually boasts one of the best autumn pallets. Other places include Carbisdale Castle in the Highlands, Elan Valley in Powys, Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire and Grizedale Park in Cumbria.
Search for fungi in forests and meadows ©Getty
An unassuming but charming spectacle is to be found under your feet this autumn. From September a glut of fungi began to populate forest floors, trees, meadows and fields. This makes for a forager’s wonderland but also presents a brilliant sight to simply observe. A great variety of species have already sprung up so draw your eyes away from the transfixing autumnal trees and onto the ground. The iconic fly agaric is certainly one to look out for.