This column has been written by Ellen Winter, Stroud Community Wildlife Officer for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
In the hedgerows the hips and haws, blackberries and sloes are turning colour and starting to be devoured.
The songbirds are either busy with a late brood or are trying to fatten themselves for winter – either way, it feels like time is getting shorter.
On our many reserves tree and scrub cutting work will soon start again, once the growing and bird nesting is over.
Because, while many minibeasts and fungi like nothing better than a damp, dark mature woodland, most flowering plants, butterflies and moths, and a whole host of other animals prefer a warmer, lighter habitat – from dappled canopy through open grassland to bare rock.
Cutting trees and scrub is essential to allow light and warmth to reach towards the ground. It needs to be done in the autumn and winter as it is illegal to disturb nesting birds – and one of the reasons for targeted tree cutting is to encourage rare birds like nightjars and nightingales.
The period when trees are leafless is getting noticeably shorter – they lose leaves later and grow them earlier, so our tree work has become more concentrated and hectic over the winter.
This is also starting to be compounded by the effect of ash dieback. The autumn winds over the next few years will see increasing ash casualties, as the disease makes the affected wood very brittle and liable to shatter under stress.
Weakened ash trees are starting to be blown down more frequently than even a few years ago, and where they are near footpaths they need to be made safe very quickly, disrupting scheduled work.
We ask the public to bear with us, to let us know about blocked footpaths on our reserves and to take extra care in high winds.
If you have ash trees on your own land you should check their health regularly against dieback symptoms and plan appropriate action in case of infection.
Find out more at gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk