October has been a month of change. From the change in the seasonal weather, to the behaviours and movements of the wildlife in the national park. The overnight frosts play a part in shocking trees and shrubs to start their Autumn transformation. With the first frost in September the colours began to show and by mid-October the countryside was popping. The Silver Birch, Aspen, Bracken and Larch trees have been showing their vibrant colours for as long as possible, before the wind blew the leaves off, creating a carpet of gold.
So why do leaves change colour? Something called Chlorophyll is a pigment that makes leaves have their vibrant green during the Spring and Summer. As the days get shorter and the dark starts to set in, this pigment starts to wear off, revealing the tones of orange, yellows and reds we see in the foliage.
The change in animal behaviour at this time of year is also very noticeable. Mammals (especially those that hibernate) become even more hungry and are constantly on the lookout for food to get them through the Winter months. One behaviour that is most noticeable due to its volume, is the Rut of Red Deer. Across Scotland, Red Deer is our most prominent deer species alongside the Roe, and in the Autumn, they gear themselves up for the big Rut. After casting their old antlers in the spring, their new large antlers are ready for battle. A stag’s testosterone if heightened as they protect their ground and battle to become the alfa male with the most hinds in preparation for mating season. Although these deer are familiar sights in upland glens, they also roam around tree plantations.
We also welcome back the BBC Autumnwatch team in October, coming live from the Cairngorms National Park. Over the 4 nights, they showcased the transformation of this landscape through time lapses and films of fungi, Deer and return of thousands of Pink-footed geese. To catch up on the programmes and see the beautiful National Park from a different perspective, them watch them here for the next few days.