“False autumn” in Devon

“Nature’s timing is everything for our wildlife. The climate crisis is bringing with it seasonal weather patterns which our wildlife is just not adapted to.”

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Climate change seems to be giving us ‘spring shift’:

Season creep – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Futures Forum: Climate change >>> an early spring and putting nature ‘out of sync’

Today’s Mail carries the parallel phenomenon of ‘false autumn’:

The unexpected seasonal shift, which has been made more likely by climate change, shows the effects of an exceptionally hot and dry summer – also known as a ‘false autumn’ – which experts say has pushed trees into ‘survival mode’ all over the UK

Britain’s trees have turned a sea of reds and oranges after weeks of extreme temperatures and drought sparked a ‘false autumn’ and led to warnings of trouble for wildlife when the weather turns colder. Striking images from across the country reveal golden-brown branches and dried-up leaves along footpaths much earlier than usual.

The unexpected seasonal shift shows the effects of an exceptionally hot and dry summer – also known as a ‘false autumn’ – which experts say has pushed trees into ‘survival mode’ all over the UK. As a result of the stress, trees have been prematurely shedding or changing the colour of their leaves to conserve water and energy in a bid to survive the weather.

With summer not due to officially end until September 23, experts have said fall’s August appearance is a sign that the heatwave and low rainfall has brought on a ‘false autumn’, as trees abandon their normal seasonal cycles and close down early.

Britain’s drought sparks ‘false Autumn’ while experts warn phenomenon could impact wildlife | Daily Mail Online

The BBC reports from Devon:

A so-called false autumn may cause problems for wildlife in Devon in the coming months, a charity says. The Devon Wildlife Trust said trees had been shedding leaves about two months early because of recent hot weather. It also said usual wild foods for birds and mammals may already be depleted as a result. Staff said that, despite some recent rain, people should put out regular supplies of water in gardens, plus high-energy foods, to help wildlife.

‘False autumn’ may ‘spell trouble for Devon wildlife’ – BBC News

With Devon Live telling us what we perhaps already know:

If you’ve been out and about in Devon recently you may have noticed some strange phenomena. Trees changing from green to yellow, leaves crunching underfoot, trees laden with fruit, hedgerows full of blackberries. All this would be completely normal in October. But in August it’s nothing short of bizarre. You could be forgiven that autumn had arrived early. And now experts are saying that the dry, hot summer has ushered in what is known as a ‘false autumn’. Trees are abandoning their normal seasonal cycle and closing down prematurely in an attempt to survive by conserving water and energy.

And there are fears it could be bad news for wildlife and the environment . Devon Wildlife Trust says that when October and November do arrive, the usual bounty of wild foods may already be depleted, leaving little for birds and mammals. The charity, which has 60 nature reserves across Devon, says there is evidence of the ‘false autumn’ at many of the sites it manages across the county.

Fallen leaves have been a common sight all over the UK this summer (Terry Whittaker/ Devon Wildlife Trust)

Devon experiences freak early autumn – Devon Live

With more from the Western Morning News earlier today:

‘False autumn’ caused by summer drought spells trouble for nature

And from the DWT’s own press release:

The Trust’s Steve Hussey said:

“Our staff and volunteers have reported seeing lots of trees whose leaves have turned brown prematurely. Many trees are also shedding their leaves two or even three months ahead of when we’d expect them to. A member of our nature reserves’ team told me that in the 30 years he’s been working on his sites he’s never known it to be drier and for so many trees to have experienced leaf loss so early in the year.”

“A very early and thinner, less bountiful wild harvest will present a further challenge to many of the birds and mammals which rely on a diet of berries, nuts and seeds to build-up their reserves of body fat before the onset of winter. Take dormice, as just one example: these are animals which must maximise their bodyweight in October and November in order to have a better chance of surviving their long winter hibernation. To do this they will consume large numbers of high fat foods, especially hazelnuts, during autumn. But if those hazelnuts and other hedgerow fruits have already been and gone in August then that presents them with a real problem.

Nature’s timing is everything for our wildlife. The climate crisis is bringing with it seasonal weather patterns which our wildlife is just not adapted to. Our long, hot summer and the ‘false autumn’ will have a knock on for many species right into the real autumn months and beyond.”

‘False autumn’ spells trouble for wildlife, charity warns | Devon Wildlife Trust

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